On July 1, 1922, a 28-year-old disabled World War I veteran became the first recipient of a Farm and Home Loan from the state of California in what ultimately became the CalVet Home Loans Program.
The 1,185 square foot bungalow style home, on North Townsend Avenue in Los Angeles, sold for $4,120, which came out to a monthly payment of $25.94. Of course, he had no way of knowing that he would become the first of the hundreds of thousands who have utilized one of the greatest benefits available to all veterans living in California.
“That first loan, to a disabled World War I veteran in 1922, exemplified what our CalVet Home Loan program is all about,” said CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani MD. “It was then, and remains today, our goal to serve our veterans who served us so well.”
The nation looked for ways to assist veterans following World War I, and California did so in a big way. Chapter 519, in the Statutes of 1921, created the state’s Veterans’ Farm and Home Purchases Act for the purpose of “furnish[ing] to veterans the opportunity to purchase farms, homes and home sites.” Chapter 580 created the Veterans Welfare Board to administer the program.
That led to the creation of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in 1935, which, in turn, became the California Department of Veterans Affairs in 1946. The Veterans Farm and Home Loans program became the CalVet Farm and Home Loans program as well.
California voters approved the sale of $10 million in bonds – not taxpayer dollars – to fund the loans, repaying the bonds through the principal and interest paid on the mortgages, and it remains that way today. The loan limit that began at $5,000 in 1921 is roughly $1 million today.
The small home in Los Angeles that started it all with a $4,120 loan in 1922 still stands today.
“I can’t imagine the feeling of honor the loan officer felt when the first Home Loan was closed almost 100 years ago,” said Deputy Secretary Home Loan Division Theresa Gunn. “The staff we have serving our veterans are here because they want to give a little something back to those who helped provide the blanket of freedom we sleep under each night.”
Like most other homes built in the era, that very first home has had a succession of owners and looks slightly different due to re-roofing. Its current estimated value? Over $530,000.
CalVet’s program, in fact, preceded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Home Loan Guaranty program – created as part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (GI Bill) of 1944 – by more than two decades. And if the VA’s program closely resembles CalVet’s, there is a good reason: Stockton attorney and World War I veteran Warren Atherton wrote much of the GI Bill. He also was CalVet’s legal counsel from 1935 until 1960.
The Home Loans program is the foundational cornerstone of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Since 1921 it has helped veterans build, rebuild, and own homes, and it will continue to do so for well into the future.
For more information on obtaining a CalVet home loan, CLICK HERE or call us directly at 866-653-2510, we are happy to help.
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