At age 24, Brett Dupree knew that he wanted to purchase his own home, buy into his community, and sink roots in New Bedford. 

Dupree had joined the Army Reserve immediately after high school, and he served five years. So, when he went to buy his first home on SouthCoast, he initially turned to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for help obtaining a mortgage. VA home loans fit some veterans well, but the VA mortgage program also comes with several nuances and restrictions that can make the program difficult for some Massachusetts veterans to access. 

Dupree had one home purchase fall through, and then he learned that his five years of Reserve service were not enough to qualify him for a VA mortgage. He was able to achieve homeownership, and purchase a single-family home in New Bedford, because of Operation Welcome Home, MassHousing’s home mortgage program for veterans of military service. 

MassHousing is the commonwealth’s affordable housing bank, and in partnership with over 170 local banks and mortgage lenders, our agency finances mortgages for low- and moderate-income homeowners — many of them first-time buyers.

MassHousing launched Operation Welcome Home in late 2015, to extend homeownership opportunities to military families in Massachusetts. 

Operation Welcome Home serves first-time homeowners, and other qualified homebuyers, among the state’s community of veterans, active duty service members, members of the National Guard and Reserve, and Gold Star Families. 

The program extends home mortgages with simple terms, and tremendous buying power, to Massachusetts military families. Through Operation Welcome Home, veterans and military families may purchase a home with a low down payment, or no down payment at all. 

MassHousing makes no-down-payment homeownership possible for veterans, by layering a zero-interest, deferred-payment second mortgage on up to 3 percent of the home’s purchase price, on top of a conventional MassHousing mortgage that finances up to 97 percent of a home purchase. 

We developed Operation Welcome Home as a viable alternative for the men and women who have served our country, who may not qualify for homeownership programs through the VA. It’s a simple, responsive mortgage program that makes homeownership accessible for veterans. 

Operation Welcome Home allowed Michael Stearns and his fiancee, Courtney Messenheimer, to purchase their first home in Reading. Stearns served as a Marine in Egypt, helping secure the U.S. Embassy during the Arab Spring. They were denied a VA mortgage, but MassHousing helped them achieve homeownership. 

The program also allowed John Stivaletta, a Boston firefighter who was deployed to Iraq as a Marine, purchase a Boston condominium unit with no money down. Stivaletta had been denied a VA loan after a lengthy review of condominium association documents; MassHousing closed on his Operation Welcome Home mortgage in two weeks. 

And, through Operation Welcome Home, Brett Dupree was able to purchase his single-family home in New Bedford with a 2 percent down payment. He was originally going to put 3 percent down on the first mortgage, but holding back 1 percent allowed him to have cash on hand that he used to make repairs to his new home. Dupree put the savings from a lower down payment into his new home, improving his floors, and rewiring his electrical system.

“I got a better interest rate, and saved having to put down $6,000 toward the down payment, which is a lot of money,” he notes. “It’s a great investment. I’m very happy with it.” 

We are very proud to be able to help our veterans achieve the benefits of owning their own home. These men and women have unselfishly put themselves in harm’s way to serve us, and it is deeply satisfying to help them put down roots in Massachusetts.

Tim Sullivan is the executive director of MassHousing, an independent, quasi-public agency charged with providing financing for affordable housing in Massachusetts. MassHousing funds homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents, and finances the production and preservation of affordable and mixed-income rental housing.