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VETERANS' LAND BOARD

VETERANS' LAND BOARD. A constitutional amendment in 1946 authorized the establishment of the Veterans' Land Board. The board was appointed in 1949 and was composed of the governor, attorney general, and commissioner of the General Land Office, who were to administrate the Veterans' Land Program. The amendment authorized the legislature to empower the board to issue $25 million in bonds, the proceeds of which were to be used by the board for buying land to resell to Texas veterans of World War II. Another amendment in 1951 increased the amount of bonds that could be issued to $100 million and authorized the legislature to extend the benefits of the act to Texas veterans with service subsequent to 1945. Benefits of the program were made available to veterans of the Korean War, and in 1967 an amendment extended these benefits to veterans of the Vietnam War. Another constitutional amendment in 1956 changed the composition of the board to the commissioner of the General Land Office and two gubernatorial appointees, one of whom must be well-versed in veteran affairs and one experienced in finance. Appointed to four-year overlapping terms, the two public members must be confirmed by the senate and are required to execute a $50,000 bond to the state.

As of 1993 the board had three programs, including the Veterans' Land Program, initiated in 1949. The board purchased land directly from the seller and resold it to veterans on a thirty-year contract of sale and purchase. Originally the veteran could purchase a minimum of twenty acres of land, but no loan could exceed $7,500. In 1967 the maximum loan allowed was $10,000, and in June 1973 the minimum amount of land that could be purchased was reduced to ten acres. At that time the veteran was required to make a 5 percent down payment on the selling price, the balance payable at an interest rate of 5.5 percent over a forty-year period. On April 24, 1975, the maximum loan was increased to $15,000; all other existing requirements remained the same. By 1993 the minimum purchase was five acres, the maximum loan was $20,000, and the maximum length of time for repayment was thirty years. Since inception of the program more than 130,000 loans have been made to purchase more than 4.5 million acres. The Texas Veterans' Housing Assistance Program began in 1983. This program provided low-interest loans of up to $45,000, used in conjunction with a mortgage loan from a private lending institution, to purchase new or existing homes. In 1986 the Texas Veterans' Home Improvement Program was instituted. Loans were made for home repairs or improvements eligible under the United States Housing and Urban Development Title I Program with a maximum loan of $17,500 in 1993. Since the programs began, up to $1.25 billion bond sales have been authorized with $1.1 billion sold. Programs are self-supporting and no tax money is used. In 1990 and 1991 appropriations were just over $6.5 million and were included in the appropriations of the General Land Board, which administers the programs. There were approximately 175 employees. See also VETERANS' LAND BOARD SCANDAL.

Dick Smith and John G. Johnson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Dick Smith and John G. Johnson, "VETERANS' LAND BOARD," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mdv03), accessed December 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.