VA officials have again asked lenders not to foreclose on veterans whose ability to pay their VA-backed mortgages was impeded by three major hurricanes that hit the U.S. last year.

In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, VA requested that lenders not foreclose on such loans for 90 days. Because the lenders, not VA, hold the loans, the decision to foreclose is theirs, but VA can allow for the collection of additional interest if the lender agrees to hold off foreclosure proceedings.

In March, VA requested the moratorium be extended to 270 days, after an earlier request to push the figure to 180 days.

The three storms are among the costliest in history. Harvey made landfall in Texas in late August, Irma hit Florida in mid-September and Maria did major damage to Puerto Rico later that month. The VA request covers all areas hit by the storms, not just the landfall locations.

It’s not clear how many VA loan users were affected by the storms, but Texas and Florida consistently rank at or near the top of the list for newly issued loans each year. They were 1-2, respectively, in 2017, with 39,006 purchase loans issued in Texas and 34,605 issued in Florida. Only California had more Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans issued in 2017; Texas ranked second (19,610) and Florida was third (12,842).

Less than 1,900 VA-backed purchase loans and IRRRLs were made in Puerto Rico in 2017, but those figures don’t account for existing loans. Nearly 90,000 homeowners on the island reportedly became delinquent on their mortgage payments as a result of the storm.

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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