Celebrating Independence Day With the Gift of Mortgage-Free Homes

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, in honor of Independence Day, has announced that it has delivered 35 mortgage-free homes to fallen first responder families nationwide. In addition to providing mortgage-free homes to 34 fallen first responder families in 18 states, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has welcomed injured Mississippi Army National Guard Sergeant James “Carl” Sampson and his family to their new mortgage-free smart home in Picayune, Mississippi.

The Tunnel to Towers Smart Home Program builds specially adapted smart homes to help our most catastrophically injured veterans and first responders live more independently.

Heroes recognized for their sacrifices

Sgt. Sampson enlisted in the Marines in 1987 after graduating high school and dedicated four years to the USMC before joining the Mississippi Army National Guard. In 2003, Sgt. Sampson, who was retired from the National Guard and working as a NASA Crane operator, was told his old Battalion was set to deploy as part of America’s response to the 9/11 attacks. Sampson re-enlisted with the Mississippi Army National Guard, and was deployed to Iraq with his cousin and the 890th Engineering Battalion. On September 12, 2003, Sgt. Sampson’s truck was hit by a buried missile set off by a cellphone, and in the incident, lost his left eye and suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple broken bones. As part of his recovery, he had a left craniofacial reconstruction and continues to deal with seizures and other medical complications to this day.

On December 12, 2022, FDNY Firefighter William Moon II fell 20 feet inside his Brooklyn firehouse during a routine drill. He passed away on December 20, 2022, after a final life-saving act of donating his organs. He left behind his wife, Kristina, and two children. Moon was a 21-year veteran of the FDNY, and worked as a member of the FDNY’s elite special operations rescue company. Along with working for the FDNY, Moon volunteered in his hometown with the Islip Volunteer Fire Department. Tunnel to Towers paid off the mortgage on his family’s Long Island home.

“I have always known the miracles Tunnel to the Towers has created for others,” said William’s wife, Kristina Moon. “While I never imagined I would be in this position, I am so grateful for the relief they have given our family during our darkest hours … My children and I will certainly pay it forward and carry on Billy’s legacy.”

Honoring legacies of valor

The Tunnel to Towers Fallen First Responder Home Program pays off the mortgages for the families of law enforcement officers, and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty, pass away from 9/11-related illnesses, and leave behind young children.

Established from the tragic events of 9/11, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation carries out its mission to “do good,” by providing mortgage-free homes to Gold Star and fallen first responder families with young children and building specially adapted smart homes for catastrophically injured veterans and first responders. Tunnel to Towers is also committed to eradicating veteran homelessness, and helping America Never Forget September 11, 2001.

Continued efforts to honor vets

In addition to the work of organizations like Tunnel to Towers, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced the availability of $78 million in HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) across the country, for more than 7,000 vouchers.

Through the HUD-VASH program, HUD and VA’s mission is to end homelessness by assisting veterans and their families in obtaining permanent and sustainable housing with access to quality healthcare and supportive services, and to ensure that homelessness is otherwise prevented.

The HUD-VASH program combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the VA. VA provides these services for participating veterans at VA medical centers (VAMCs), community-based outreach clinics (CBOCs), through VA contractors, or through other VA designated entities.

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Eric C. Peck

MortgagePoint Managing Digital Editor Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career in New York City with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage finance space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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