Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced legislation last week to prevent eviction of military families for a period of one year after the activation of a spouse.
"Utah has nearly 2,000 reservists involved in the gulf crisis. The last thing they need is the added worry of whether their families have a roof over their heads," Hatch said.Hatch noted the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940 was passed to allow those called up "to devote their entire energy to the defense of the nation," by doing such things as holding interests on loans and mortgages to no more than 6 percent despite original contract terms.
But in meetings with families of reservists and others serving in the Persian Gulf, Hatch said, "People expressed concern over current or threatened eviction action. Several families said they actually moved to lower cost housing. That is shameful and unconscionable, and I intend to stop it."
The soldiers' and sailors' act does have a section that would prevent families from being evicted, but it applies only to rents lower than $150 per month, said Utah National Guard Col. Barrie Vernon - a reasonable limit in 1940 but totally inadequate in 1991.
Hatch's bill would still allow property owners to sue to remedy such things as a military's inability to pay rent.
"Even if the courts render an unfavorable judgment, my amendment could stay the judgment for a period of one year," Hatch said.
The bill was referred to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee for consideration.