As the banking industry receives the brunt of criticism for unpopular government bailouts, reckless lending practices, and has been the favorite target of politicians, apparently Bank of America is at least trying to improve its image.
National Public Radio's broadcast All Things Considered reported in late August on a little-known Bank of America program to donate distressed or foreclosed homes to needy veterans and for charities assisting disadvantaged people. Details are a bit sketchy, but the program is genuine.
The Bank of America manager and assistant-manager I approached had not been advised of the program, but the manager did research her corporate contacts and emailed me a list of associates who would be knowledgeable of the offer. Bank of America is one of the world's major financial institutions with 5,600 retail banking facilities and 16,200 ATMs servicing 40 countries, so to experience the frustrating nuisance called ‘phone-tag' was a given.
The initial program announced 2,500 properties to be given away, yet the Aug. 28, email I received from their corporate headquarters suggested only 1,000 properties were available for injured veterans and First Responders. Whatever the number may be, Bank of America claims this is a three year commitment by their conglomerate.
Evidently, a lot of fingers are in a big pie with several slices remaining. According to the email, only a few dozen homes have so far been donated. Numerous nonprofit factions serving military veterans are involved in vigorous discussions with Bank of America, including Habitat for Humanity and other housing organizations.
Good is being done. As reported by National Public Radio, an Army scout who took a bullet through his neck in Afghanistan and lost a lung and several ribs during battlefield surgery was given the keys to his new home in August. The veteran was appreciative to be sure, but, as with most veterans, said so many others served longer, lost more, some didn't make it, and he was humbled to receive such a wonderful gift.
Additional information may be obtained researching Bank of America's website at bankofamerica.com.
However, a less-frustrating route may be to contact veteran-help groups such as: Military Warriors Support Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, or a plethora of housing organizations available to the general public.
If a housing organization or veteran-support group is not aware of this program, ask them to get involved, and quickly. Offers like this don't happen often.
Pete Mecca is a Vietnam veteran, freelance writer and columnist. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.