Helping Wisconsin Veterans Achieve the American Dream
WHEDA has been continually tackling affordable housing challenges since its creation as Wisconsin Housing Finance Authority (WHFA) in 1972. The Authority has always strived to create unique programs with the goal of assisting vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, even though veterans have made so many sacrifices for their country, they are considered to be among the vulnerable populations that WHEDA works so hard to help.
In response to the growing need for assistance, WHEDA began to create programs that specifically targeted veterans. In 1974, the Veterans Single Family Home Loan program became the first of many single-family home buyer programs that catered to populations eager to achieve the American Dream of buying a home. The program offered reduced-rate mortgages to veteran home buyers which made home ownership attainable for many of these potential homeowners.
While transitioning back to civilian life after serving in the military can be very challenging, the mid-1970s were an especially difficult time to be a veteran given the outrage against the Vietnam War. Upon returning home from the war, many veterans faced severe discrimination and social ridicule. 86% of participants in the Veterans Single Family Home Loan program happened to be involved in the Vietnam War, so providing extra support to them proved critical during this time in the nation’s history. For the majority of these veterans, participation in the WHEDA loan program was the first time they had requested and received veterans benefits.
During the program’s launch year, WHEDA financed $19 million in mortgage loans for 744 veterans and their families. These homes, on average, supported young men who had families relying on them to provide a safe, supportive home.
Veterans programs have continued to evolve with the current landscapes and initiatives which have developed into up-to-date products, such as WHEDA’s Veterans Affordable Loan Opportunity Rate (VALOR) program. The VALOR program offered reduced-rate mortgages with no funding fee and none of the red tape that accompanies a traditional VA mortgage. Lending partners described the program as flexible and uncomplicated. The First Time Home Buyer requirement was waived for VALOR loans to make the product available for more veteran home buyers. VALOR was one way that WHEDA could give back to those who had given so much to our country.
WHEDA will continue working to ensure that Wisconsin veterans, an often-underrepresented community, receive the support they need to gain access to affordable housing. Although WHEDA does not currently offer any programs specifically for veterans, the Authority has worked to ensure that its available programs are inclusive to those of all different backgrounds. The approval process for veterans applying for a WHEDA loan is simpler than when programs were veteran-specific. There are fewer targeted requirements to be met in order to qualify for a loan.
WHEDA continues to focus on assisting veterans. Many of the projects and developments in which WHEDA participates include set-asides for veteran renters as well as support programs designed specifically to help veterans. Projects like Milwaukee Soldiers' Home and Veterans Manor focus exclusively on veterans. WHEDA will continue to make our veterans a priority in future initiatives.