By Derrick DePledge
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would again guarantee loans on homes in Hawaii on rainwater catchment systems.
The VA had stopped guaranteeing the home loans a few years ago in a bureaucratic dispute with the state.
State Rep. Bob McDermott had pressured the Abercrombie administration to resolve the dispute. Gabbard's intervention, however, was credited with bringing the VA and the state closer together.
“Over the past year, I have worked to overcome tremendous obstacles that have prevented Hawaii’s veterans from purchasing a home with their VA benefits simply because the only available water source for their home was a rainwater catchment system,” Gabbard said in a statement. “For too long veterans who have served our country have been caught in an unacceptable bureaucratic stalemate which has prevented them from using the benefits they have earned and deserve.”
“The solution announced today by the VA recognizes the unique needs of Hawaii veterans and will allow them to purchase homes served by rainwater catchment, which many times are the only homes available in places like Hawaii Island. I commend the efforts of the Hawaii Department of Health and the VA for coming to a resolution that provides a straightforward approval process and resuming the home loan guaranty program for our veterans and their families.”
*Update: U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono raised the VA home loan issue directly with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the Kauai-born Army veteran.
“This announcement is the culmination of hard work and cooperation by the VA and the Hawaii Department of Health as they were able to come to a resolution that meets the needs of veterans seeking loan guarantees across the state,” Hirono, who serves on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “After raising this issue directly with Secretary Shinseki, I would like to thank him for his strong leadership in once again helping pave the way for veterans to buy a home, even in Hawaii’s deep rural areas that don’t have access to county water lines.”