Fund helps service members achieve the American dream

26 Jan 2011 | Lance Cpl. Victor Barrera

Everyone, from the moment they started thinking of their future, wants the American dream: a family, their own home and a steady income. Now a non-profit organization is helping service members and Department of Defense personnel achieve part of that dream.

The Military Housing Assistance Fund was created as a way for service members, national guardsmen, reservists, veterans and military employees to buy their own home.

The program was started by veterans who knew that buying a house while in the military was troublesome. As businessmen, they created the MHAF and used it as a way to help service members in the house-buying process.

Service members and military employees can contact the organization prior to making a purchase, the MHAF then makes it a goal to get the client the best deal possible.

“In the housing market there are a lot of unethical people who would take advantage of a young family just because they think service members are naive about buying homes. They treat them like just another paycheck. They don't work hard for them and don't do what is necessary to get them the best possible deal."” said Errol Anderson, the director of operations for the MHAF. "We have a nationwide network of agents who work with the service members and per our guidelines, they work very hard to get them the best deal possible, and if they fall short we give them a grant, which is a free gift and never needs to be repaid."

Before a house is bought, however, applicants must go through a pre-qualification process to see if they are credit worthy to buy a house. If they are not, the organization will help fix it and move on with the process.

“We won’t pay for all of the cost of buying a home, but if someone falls short we will certainly assist them,” said Anderson. “Our plan is to reduce their out-of-pocket expenditure as much as possible"

For one military spouse the MHAF had such an impact on her that she decided to give back to the program by becoming affiliated with them.

“They were very helpful when I bought my first house; they got me pre-approved for a mortgage, set me up with a realtor and helped with the closing costs,” said Natalie Lahiff, a realtor who helps the MHAF. “I decided to become affiliated with them because they are dedicated to helping military families.”

Although the organization does not have an office in the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune area, there are many agents who are associated with them in this area.

“We’ve helped a lot of service members in Camp Lejeune,” said Anderson. “We have real estate agents who work with us throughout the United States.”

All of this is possible through donations from citizens as well as companies. Anderson added that everything, from the $10 that a citizen donates to the $24,000 that a major corporation donates, goes toward helping service members and DoD personnel buy a home.

While some organizations can legally keep 20 percent of the funds for administrative costs, the MHAF ensures all the money donated is used for their intended purpose. All of the administrative costs are covered by the founders.

“It’s a great program and the money is free,” said Anderson. “Our mission statement is ‘helping military families achieve the American dream they are defending,’ and we are committed to doing just that.”

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