By Lindsay Christ
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) announced to a small group of veterans outside American Legion Post 269 in Patchogue that he was waiting on Governor David Paterson to sign his veteran’s foreclosure bill, which has earned a significant amount of bipartisan support.
The bill enables local Suffolk County governments to waive fees, penalties and interest payments for soldiers whose houses foreclosed while they were in Iraq or Afghanistan, making it easier for them to reclaim their homes. It will only apply to veterans who have been deployed for at least six months.
“Our veterans are real-life heroes who put their lives on the line for our freedoms. The least we can do is make sure they have homes to come back to when they return from the battlefield,” Foley explains. In the event that the soldier is killed in action (KIA), the soldier’s spouse will be able to use this bill as well. “It’s a small solace, but at least they will be able to keep their homes” Foley says.
The consensus among the veterans present was that this bill is a step in the right direction.
“I think the new bill is great. These guys are leaving their jobs to go overseas and fight and are coming back to find their house are gone- it’s not the right thing,” Tom Bergin, Chaplain for the Suffolk County American Legion says. He also had a few words of advice on how ways to advance the bill further. “They should go back a few years and find out how many Iraq/Afghanistan veterans lost their homes due to injury or being away before this bill was passed. This bill should be retroactive.”
The legislation passed in the state senate by a 62-0 vote, and also passed in the assembly, where it was sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst). Now all that is needed is for Gov. Patterson to sign the bill so that it can become law. Although the law would only be for residents of Suffolk County, Foley also has a statewide bill in the works.
“I hope next session to have a state-wide bill approved,” says Foley.