LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director Jeff Barnes announced a new $5 million housing assistance program on Tuesday for Michigan military service members, veterans and their families.

The Michigan Veterans Trust Fund will administer the financial assistance for the Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program to service members and veterans who have struggled with the consequences of the mortgage foreclosure crisis. The funds for MiVHAP were provided by the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement, which gave Michigan residents approximately $780 million in benefits, including $97 million in direct payments to the state.

"Our veterans and their families make sacrifices to protect the freedoms we hold dear, and they should never be forced out of their homes illegally," Schuette said. "Veterans have special protections from foreclosure under the law, but in many cases those protections were ignored by lenders, who pursued improper foreclosures. This new assistance is an important step toward restoring the lives of Great Lakes state veterans who may have struggled to keep their homes during the foreclosure crisis."

Federal regulators and court settlements documented approximately 900 service members who were foreclosed upon, a violation of the federal Service Members Civil Relief Act. At least 6,000 additional service members were allegedly overcharged during the crisis by JP Morgan.

MiVHAP will provide financial grant assistance to active, reserve, Air and Army National Guard and honorably discharged veterans living or having lived in a home in Michigan for hardship related to the foreclosure crisis since 2006. Surviving spouses of Michigan military service members whose death occurred in combat since 2006 who are currently facing foreclosure may also be eligible for the assistance.

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