The new law is a “game-changer” for thousands of members who support states’ pandemic response, as they will now have access to zero-down-payment mortgages.

Thousands of National Guard members are now eligible for zero-down-payment loans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

On Jan. 5, the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, was signed into law, expanding access to several benefits for veterans. Under the new law, National Guard members deployed this year under U.S. Code Title 32 to support states’ COVID-19 response will be eligible for VA loans.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the president has approved requests from 48 states and three territories for federal support to use the National Guard through March 31. National Guard troops have helped distribute food and personal protective equipment, supported contact tracing and coronavirus testing, and their medical teams have supported direct patient care and will help administer vaccines, the agency said.

The new law means that National Guard members without active-duty service are now eligible to receive a VA home loan, according to Military.com.

“The new law makes Guard and Reserve members who have at least 90 days of service eligible for the home loan program,” the site said. “Thirty of those days must have been consecutive.”

Previously, only National Guard and Reserve members who had at least 90 days of active service were eligible for VA loans, the site added.

“This law is a game-changer for the National Guard because it opens the door to the VA home loans’ zero down benefit and provides a path to homeownership,” a spokesperson for Veterans United Home Loans told Inman via email.

In its 2021 Veteran Homebuyer Report, the lender found that 34 percent of veterans, about 1 in 3, plan on buying a home this year and about 58 percent — or 11.3 million consumers — plan to buy within the next five years. The report was conducted by global research firm Kantar, which surveyed more than 900 veterans.

“Congress is clearly aiming this expanded benefit to the tens of thousands National Guard soldiers and airmen who have served on the front lines of the response to coronavirus pandemic,” said John Goheen, director of communications for the National Guard Association of the United States, in a statement.

“Many of them are young and had not yet qualified for a VA home loan. This is ‘thank you’ from an appreciative nation.”

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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