WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today urged the Obama Administration to prevent unlawful foreclosures and protect military families from eviction. Following reports of violations by financial institutions, Brown wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Office of Service Member Affairs Director Holly Petraeus asking them to enforce the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This law ensures that military servicemembers and their families can postpone or suspend certain payments so that active duty troops can focus on their service. Properly enforcing the SCRA will help to relieve stress on the family members of those deployed servicemembers. Brown serves on the Senate Banking Committee and is slated to chair the subcommittee with jurisdiction over financial institutions.
“The men and women serving our nation have dedicated themselves to protecting our way of life. Most commit to years away from their families and loved ones and make countless sacrifices so that we may secure a better tomorrow. All of our servicemembers and military families deserve our full support and protection,” Brown said. “It’s unconscionable that certain financial institutions disregard the law and take advantage of our troops and their families. This has to end.”
For years, banks have been foreclosing on deployed servicemember homes and overcharging interest on their debts. This record indicates that some banks are not following SCRA and that the law is not being enforced to its full capacity. In the last two years, the rate of foreclosure filings near military bases rose 32 percent. More than 20,000 veterans, active-duty troops and reservists lost their homes in 2010 — the highest number since 2003. According to the Department of Justice’s own records, no case has been brought for mortgage violations under SCRA since December 2008.
The SCRA provides for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and actions that may adversely affect servicemembers during military service. Key provisions include limiting the interest rate on debts incurred prior to a person's entry into active duty military service, prohibiting military families from being evicted from rental or mortgaged property; and prohibiting military families from having their life insurance cancelled or being taxed in multiple jurisdictions.
Brown urged Holder to commence civil action against any person or company who engages in a pattern or practice of violating the SCRA or engages in a violation of the SCRA that raises an issue of significant public importance. The full text of the letter can be found HERE.
Brown also asked that the newly established Office of Servicemember Affairs within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau work with Congress to close any loopholes that could cause a member of our military or their family to be evicted from their home. He asked that Petraeus focus on ensuring that our nation’s military families are well informed of their protections under the SCRA, and that financial institutions be held accountable if they fail to adhere to the SCRA. The full text of the letter can be found HERE.