Honor LGBT veterans with affordable homeownership

The Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking found that LGBT veterans were over four times more likely than non-LGBT veterans to report finding it difficult to get by financially.

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One of the most important benefits available to LGBT veterans is the VA Home Loan program, which provides veterans with low-interest mortgages with no down payment required. Unfortunately, many LGBT veterans may not be aware of this program or may face additional hurdles in accessing it.

One of the most important benefits available to LGBT veterans is the VA Home Loan program, which provides veterans with low-interest mortgages with no down payment required. Unfortunately, many LGBT veterans may not be aware of this program or may face additional hurdles in accessing it.

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Since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, LGBT troops transitioning back into civilian life can access critical housing assistance benefits granted by the federal government to all of our country’s veterans.

As these service members transition out of military housing and into the civilian housing market, they should be equipped with the full understanding of what is available to them as part of their service to our country, particularly since the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking found that LGBT veterans were over four times more likely than non-LGBT veterans to report finding it difficult to get by financially.

One of the most important benefits available to LGBT veterans is the VA Home Loan program, which provides veterans with low-interest mortgages with no down payment required. This program can be a lifeline for LGBT veterans who may be struggling to save for a down payment or qualify for a traditional mortgage due to discrimination in the workplace or other factors.

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Unfortunately, many LGBT veterans may not be aware of this program or may face additional hurdles in accessing it. They may be hesitant to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to VA officials, out of fear of discrimination or harassment. They may also be unaware of the specific documentation and paperwork required to qualify for the VA Home Loan program, or may face challenges in finding a lender who is knowledgeable about the program and sensitive to their needs.

To address these challenges, we must do more to educate LGBT veterans about their rights and benefits. VA officials and mortgage lenders should be trained to provide culturally competent services and resources, such as LGBT-affirming housing counselors and financial advisors.

We must also work to address the underlying causes of the “rainbow gap” in homeownership. This includes advocating for policies and laws that protect LGBT individuals from discrimination in the workplace, housing market, and other areas of life, and that ensure that all individuals have access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.

Honoring the service and sacrifice of our LGBT veterans requires more than just words. It requires concrete action to ensure that these brave individuals have the support and resources they need to succeed in civilian life, including the ability to achieve the dream of homeownership.

Joseph Smith, U.S. Air Force veteran, and senior vice president of lending, CrossCountry Mortgage, Boston
Shimmy Braun, senior loan officer, CrossCountry Mortgage.

Pass law to help ease shortage of mental health professionals

Thank you to Gerald “Jud” DeLoss for his recent op-ed urging our leaders to address the worsening shortage of mental health professionals by investing in bringing more people into the psychiatric professions.

As DeLoss points out, the shrinking pool of psychiatrists will spell serious trouble for cities and states trying to open free mental health clinics for the poor or uninsured. There simply aren’t enough doctors available to hire when the demand for psychiatric services is mounting. The current pool of 40,000 psychiatrists nationwide is expected to fall 27% by 2030, creating a shortfall of as many as 21,000 psychiatrists by that year.

As the former president of a Chicago chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, I can testify that members have had enormous difficulties finding well-qualified, affordable psychiatrists in a reasonable amount of time. Waiting periods stretched into months. Many doctors weren’t taking new patients. Other psychiatrists, disillusioned with reimbursements from insurance companies, were operating cash-only practices and refusing any insurance.

One implication was clear: The reopening of Chicago’s shuttered mental health clinics was more vital than ever.

What can government do to beef up the ranks of new doctors entering the pipeline, allowing cities to tap new talent for municipal clinics? For starters, Congress can pass the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2023. This bipartisan measure would expand the number of Medicare-supported residency positions at teaching hospitals and medical schools nationwide. The result would be an expansion of young doctors, including psychiatrists, just when they’re needed the most.

Robert Kazel, Niles

Words do matter

Columnist Neil Steinberg showed his true colors recently by allying himself with FOP chief John Catanzara and a reporter over the use of the term “mob action” in describing the youth who allegedly looted a 7-Eleven.

The term was chosen to incite feelings against the Black teens who were charged as well as to bait Mayor Brandon Johnson. Steinberg can lecture while quoting the conservative Daily Mail and trying to squeeze some middle ground for himself, but he finally came down in support of the reporter and Catanzara’s use of a racially charged, if not outright racist, term.

Steinberg’s lame response to Black teens having nothing to do is to cite the stock answer: “everything — education, jobs, family, community. And law enforcement.” Law enforcement receives overwhelming funding while the other priorities are woefully underfunded and many times nonexistent.

Johnson is trying to correct this underfunding. He is right in saying we should not vilify these teens and need to provide constructive avenues for and with them.

Meanwhile, I wonder why very little was said about the youth at Lollapalooza.

Keith Kelleher, Albany Park/North Mayfair

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