Veterans Corner: GI Bill Home Loan Guarantee; legal services for homeless or at-risk veterans | Local News


Q: The feds just raised the interest rate by 75 basis points, which I understand will result in escalating mortgage rates! I have been trying to decide whether I should buy a different home. This brings a lot of uncertainty into the decision equation. I have a lot of equity in my current home, but I have a very low mortgage rate, about 3.5%. I am a veteran and I believe I am eligible for the VA Loan Guarantee program backing. What are the advantages of getting the VA loan guarantee mortgage over waiting to completely pay off my mortgage?

A: Advantages of VA home loan guarantee financing include that the VA does not require a down payment. (Some lenders, under certain circumstances, may require a down payment.) The program should result in a more competitive interest rate than the borrower’s personal credit could provide. There are only limited, and sometimes no, closing costs. The veteran normally does not have to pay mortgage insurance. The veteran often does not have to pay, as a part of monthly mortgage payment, into an escrow account to pay for the taxes and insurance when they become due. This means the monthly payments will be lower, but that the borrower would be responsible for paying the taxes and insurance out of pocket when they come due. Finally, the VA home loan is a lifetime benefit. You can use the guarantee multiple times, but only one loan at a time.


The VA has published an Interim Final Rule that allows the VA to enhance the provision of legal services for veterans experiencing or at risk for homelessness. VA will, through the Legal Services for Homeless Veterans and Veterans At-Risk for Homelessness Grant Program, offer up to 75 grants each year to eligible entities, with at least 10% of funding being used for women veterans. These grants will provide access to justice and legal services for veterans through partnerships with federal-level, down to states, cities and communities at the grassroots-level where veterans work and live, according to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. The grants will be used to contract for the actual services needed with local, state or regional non-VA entities. This first-of-its-kind grant will ensure that legal services are available nationwide to veterans in need. For more information, go to


Ameren Illinois has a utility bill assistance program whereby disabled veterans may be eligible for an energy bill payment grant and specialized services. VFW Post 454 will host Ameren representatives at the Post at 1006 E. Lincoln St., Suite 1, in Bloomington on Tuesday from 2 to 4 pm The first 100 will receive a free storm preparedness kit. Applications will be accepted for the Ameren Illinois Military Support Program, which provides an energy grant up to $100 to assist with energy costs for qualified military and disabled veterans. Those wishing to apply for the grants must bring a copy of their DD 214 or discharge letter (must have an honorable discharge), along with either a copy of their disability award letter, if the disability is service-connected, or a copy of a Social Security disability letter if the disability is not related to the military.

Jerry Vogler is superintendent of the McLean County Veterans Assistance Commission.

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