Keep Your Home California’s record-setting year is the latest evidence detailing the continued need for the free mortgage-assistance program

Facts and figures are the foundation for Keep Your Home California, from funding issued to the number of mortgage servicers participating in the program.

And the free mortgage-assistance program had another record year in 2014, with a record $340.3 million approved to help homeowners, about $33 million more than in 2013. In fact, about 38% of the dollars issued overall for the program were in 2014.

Three of the four programs had a boost in funding issued to homeowners last year, led by $160.4 million for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.

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Under the program, out-of-work homeowners eligible for jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department can receive as much as $3,000 per month for up to 18 months. The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, which issued $152 million in 2013, was recently expanded from 12 months to 18 months.

The Principal Reduction Program accounted for $136 million in funding provided to homeowners last year, a healthy gain from the $125.6 million in 2013. The program offers a maximum of $100,000 to homeowners with underwater mortgages.

Together, the Principal Reduction and Unemployment Mortgage Assistance programs combined for 87% of the funding issued by Keep Your Home California in 2014.

Both programs address big challenges still facing homeowners in the state – a difficult job market for the 1.34 million Californians looking for work, and the 1 in 10 homeowners with mortgages who owe more than the value of their home.

They also provide the most assistance available for homeowners — $100,000 with the Principal Reduction Program and $54,000 under the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.

The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program – the third-largest program in terms of assistance available to homeowners — experienced the greatest increase of funding provided on a percentage basis at almost 52%; from $28.3 million in 2013 to $42.9 million last year.

The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program offers as much as $25,000 to help homeowners “catch-up” on their past-due mortgage payments. Of course, homeowners approved for the program must be able to make their mortgage payments going forward.

Finally, the Transition Assistance Program had a slight decline in the number of homeowners approved and funding issued last year compared to 2013. The program helped 321 homeowners with a total of $1.02 million last year, about 45 fewer homeowners than 2013. The Transition Assistance Program offers as much as $5,000 to help homeowners who have an approved deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sale in order to relocate to a new housing situation.

In order to qualify for any of the Keep Your Home California programs, homeowners must meet eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship – such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, death or extraordinary medical benefits. It should be noted that homeowners with a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or greater could meet the qualified hardship requirement under the Principal Reduction Program.

Also, homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, and their mortgage servicer must participate in Keep Your Home California. Currently, more than 200 servicers are enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers.

Keep Your Home California added 46 mortgage servicers in 2014, a dramatic increase from the nine enrolled when the federally fund program started in February 2011. To check the complete current list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program, visit http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

If you would like more information or want to apply for Keep Your Home California, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (those more comfortable speaking Spanish should visit http://conservatucasacalifornia.org/). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.


Got questions about Keep Your Home California? We’ve got the answers

You have questions, we have answers.

Lots of answers.

Do Keep Your Home California benefits change my adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage? How long does it take for my home to go into foreclosure? Does applying with Keep Your Home California affect my credit score?

FAQThese are just a couple of the dozens of questions answered about the free mortgage-assistance program on the Keep Your Home California website. We recently added more questions – and answers, of course – and updated some previous responses.

Keep Your Home California wants to make sure homeowners have as much information as possible before calling the counseling center and making the decision to apply for the program. The FAQs page (listed as Frequent Questions on the homepage) has 85 questions and corresponding answers, covering everything from eligibility to the approval process, and even information about taxes.

It’s all about being helpful, open and transparent with homeowners, who often have many concerns and questions about the program. Please note, the FAQs are also available in Spanish on the ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org website

Of course, the most often asked questions center on eligibility, from who is able to apply, the approval process and requirements. The questions are answered in the FAQs, and many are addressed in a six-minute video on the website.

In short, homeowners must meet program eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship – such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, death or extraordinary medical benefits. Homeowners with a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or greater could meet the qualified hardship requirement under the Principal Reduction Program.

Homeowners must also meet county-by-county income requirements, and their mortgage servicer must participate in Keep Your Home California.

Currently, more than 200 servicers are enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers. You can check a complete list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program at http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

If you would like more information or want to apply for Keep Your Home California, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (those more comfortable speaking Spanish should visit http://conservatucasacalifornia.org/). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


Keep Your Home California expands Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program to 18 months

California’s economy continues to improve, with a declining jobless rate thanks to some fast-paced hiring in several industries, especially by high-tech firms in the Bay Area.

But for many Californians, finding a job remains a long, difficult struggle.

In an effort to help homeowners who are unemployed long-term, Keep Your Home California has expanded its Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program from 12 months to 18 months.

Under the change, out-of work homeowners eligible for jobless benefits from the Employment Development Department can receive as much as $3,000 per month for a maximum of 18 months – or a total of $54,000. Previously, the limit was $36,000.

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The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program – easily the most utilized Keep Your Home California program – is designed to help financially strapped homeowners with their mortgage payments while they look for work.

Homeowners currently enrolled in the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program can have their eligibility extended to 18 months, while those who were previously part of the program may also be eligible for additional benefits if they still meet requirements. Homeowners are encouraged to contact Keep Your Home California for more information at 888-954-5337.

Keep Your Home California officials carefully considered the decision to expand the free mortgage-assistance program and after reviewing numerous data, there was clear evidence to prompt the move.

For example, there were 1.35 million people in the state unemployed in October, the equivalent of everyone in San Diego, according to the EDD. And more than one of every three of those unemployed people has been without work for at least 27 weeks, considered long-term unemployment.

Eight of the state’s 58 counties – and their residents – are still enduring double-digit jobless rates, including almost 24 percent in Imperial County. And 33 counties have an unemployment rate above the statewide average of 7.3 percent.

Certainly, California’s economy has made some serious gains following the Great Recession, but clearly more job-growth is necessary, especially in the hardest-hit areas of the state such as the Inland Empire and the San Joaquin Valley.

The expansion of the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program will help homeowners and the communities where they live.

The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program is one of four programs through Keep Your Home California:

  • Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners who owe more than their home is worth can cut their mortgage principal as much as $100,000 while saving hundreds of dollars every month. Homeowners approved for the program enjoyed an average savings of almost 20 percent on their monthly payments, from $1,523 to $1,229 during the third quarter.
  • Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: Homeowners who are behind two months or more on their payments could receive as much as $25,000 to help them “catch up” on their past-due mortgage payments. Homeowners must have recovered from their financial hardship and be able to make their mortgage payments going forward in order to be eligible for the program.
  • Transition Assistance Program: Homeowners who have reached an agreement for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sale with their mortgage servicer could receive up to $5,000 in relocation assistance.

In order to qualify for Keep Your Home California, homeowners must meet program eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship – such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, death or extraordinary medical benefits. Homeowners with a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or greater could meet the qualified hardship requirement under the Principal Reduction Program.

Also, homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, and their mortgage servicer must participate in Keep Your Home California. Currently, more than 200 servicers are enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers. To check the complete list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program, visit http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

If you would like more information or want to apply for Keep Your Home California, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (those more comfortable speaking Spanish should visit http://conservatucasacalifornia.org/). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


Some helpful tips to make the Keep Your Home California application process much easier

Keep Your Home California receives about 1,500 calls daily from financially struggling homeowners.

Each homeowner, from the empty-nesters in Eureka to the newlywed couple in Norco, has a financial hardship and a one-of-a-kind story. Sure, some of the details may be similar – such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce or extraordinary medical bills – but none are the same.

As a result, applying for the mortgage-assistance program is far from a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all effort and requires communication, details, some documents – and, yes, even patience.

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We want to share a few helpful tips that will make the application faster and improve the overall experience.

Before calling the counseling center, homeowners should check the list of mortgage servicers – the company that collects the monthly payment – participating in Keep Your Home California. More than 200 mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase, are enrolled in the program. If your mortgage servicer is not on the list, then unfortunately you are not eligible for the program.

Homeowners should also visit the Keep Your Home California homepage and complete the short online questionnaire, which can help determine their eligibility – and the program that best fits their situation. Keep Your Home California is made up of four programs each designed to address different situations that face homeowners who may be at risk of foreclosure:

  • Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners with negative equity could qualify for a maximum of $100,000 in principal reduction, which will also often cut their monthly mortgage payments. A mortgage with a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or greater is considered an eligible financial hardship for the program. Homeowners must also be able to make their mortgage payments going forward in order to be eligible for the program.
  • Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program: Out-of-work homeowners collecting jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department can receive as much as $3,000 per month in mortgage assistance for up to 18 months.
  • Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: Homeowners who are behind two months or more on their payments could receive as much as $25,000 to help them “catch up” on their past-due mortgage payments. To be eligible for the program, homeowners must have recovered from their financial hardship and be able to make their mortgage payments going forward.
  • Transition Assistance Program: Homeowners who have reached an agreement with their mortgage servicer for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or a short sale could receive up to $5,000 in relocation assistance.

If your mortgage servicer is enrolled in the program and you’ve completed the online eligibility form with positive results, call the counseling center as soon as possible and learn more about Keep Your Home California.

Call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Counselors are available in English and Spanish, and translators are available for free in virtually any language.

When you call, please be aware that applicants must complete a private counseling session, which takes about 45 minutes. All folks listed on the mortgage – such as a husband and wife – must be on the phone at the same time.

We strongly suggest you have a pad of paper and pen available during this counseling session, along with your mortgage loan number and most recent mortgage statement. Also, have your most recent wage or income information ready.

You should also be prepared to discuss your financial hardship – as mentioned above, a job loss, cut in pay, divorce, death in the family, extraordinary medical bills – a requirement for Keep Your Home California.

If you appear to be a good candidate for the program at the conclusion of the counseling session, you will be asked to fax or mail some documents to the center for review by Keep Your Home California and your mortgage servicer. Be prepared to send in proof of income – a W-2 or 1099 statement – bank statements, the mortgage payment statement and possibly additional documents.

Homeowners should send the documents as soon as possible to expedite the review process. Also, homeowners should return calls immediately when contacted by Keep Your Home California.

The review process can take 30 to 45 days and often longer for the Principal Reduction Program. The faster a homeowner can send in the documents and respond to questions, the quicker the review process – and the sooner for approval for the program.

Of course, not everyone who applies is approved for the program. But by following the advice above, you will improve your chances – and reduce the wait.


Keep Your Home California can help homeowners who received HAMP modifications lower their monthly mortgage payments

More than 300,000 homeowners in California have benefited from a federal program that lowers their interest rates – and their monthly mortgage payments.

The federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has been a much-appreciated and greatly needed program for homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments. Almost 325,000 homeowners in California have been approved for permanent loan modifications under HAMP, saving an average of $720 per month – and allowing many of them to remain in their homes.

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However, after five years at a rate as low as 2%, most homeowners in HAMP Tier 1 modifications will experience an interest rate increase, up to 1% per year until their rate adjusts to the market rate at the time of their modification.

For California homeowners, the median interest rate after adjustment will be 4.5% – well below their interest rate before modification. The final rate step-up will result in homeowners paying a median of $317 more per month.

For some homeowners, even a slight payment increase could make it difficult to meet their monthly mortgage obligation. If homeowners find themselves in this situation, Keep Your Home California may be able to help.

Keep Your Home California’s Principal Reduction Program offers as much as $100,000 to reduce the outstanding principal balance, which can save homeowners hundreds of dollars every month on their mortgages. Homeowners must be able to demonstrate a financial hardship in order to qualify for assistance through the program. An increase in a homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment that causes the payment to be unaffordable is a qualifying hardship.

The average homeowner approved for the Principal Reduction Program had their mortgage payment reduced by $269 per month during the second-quarter of 2014. And their average loan-to-value ratio fell from 146% to 112% during the second quarter.

So, homeowners approved for the state-managed program can benefit with lower monthly payments – and be much closer to right-side-up on their mortgage.

To qualify, homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, and their mortgage servicer must participate in Keep Your Home California. Currently, more than 200 servicers are enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers. To check the complete list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program, visit http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

If you would like more information or want to apply for Keep Your Home California, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (those more comfortable speaking Spanish should visit http://conservatucasacalifornia.org/). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.


We’re always looking for more homeowners to share their experiences about Keep Your Home California

A Sacramento-area single mother who endured a layoff now enjoys an opportunity at an education and a new profession.

A Fresno homeowner who has battled cancer, diabetes, the death of his parents and the loss of his longtime job is able to remain in his home.

Carrie G. and her family were able to catch up on their mortgage with the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program.

Carrie G. and her family were able to catch up on their mortgage with the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program.

And a grandmother who lives with her daughter and special needs grandson in Southern California catches up on her past-due mortgage payments.

All three are just a few of the more than 45,000 homeowners who have benefited from Keep Your Home California, a free mortgage-assistance program.

Almost 30 homeowners, including the three above, have shared their experiences on the state-run program’s website. These Success Stories detail how the homeowners learned about the program, how long the process took and how much Keep Your Home California has helped them.

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We’re always looking for more homeowners to share their stories. If you have been approved for the program and are interested in talking about the experience, please send an email to success@kyhca.org.

Every homeowner has different circumstances, from their financial hardships – a cut in pay, a job loss, a divorce or even the loss of a spouse – to their specific mortgage needs. But all of the featured homeowners have one thing in common: Keep Your Home California.

“This is truly changing our life, changing our future and rescuing my family and our home. Words can’t express our gratitude for what has been done for us. We feel like this is a fresh start for us.”

“I was at my wits ends, I’ve been in my home for 35 years and I thought I was going to lose it.”

“I cannot express it in words; it brought tears to my eyes. It was such a relief. I was sitting there in tears; I was prepared to lose my home.”

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These are just some of the emotions and gratitude expressed in the Success Stories. Please take a few moments to read the homeowners’ stories and learn more about Keep Your Home California.

Keep Your Home California has four programs to help homeowners:

  • Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners could qualify for a maximum of $100,000 in principal reduction, which will also often cut their monthly mortgage payments. A mortgage with a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or greater is considered an eligible financial hardship for the program. However, homeowners with “underwater mortgages” must be able to make their mortgage payments going forward in order to be eligible for the program.
  • Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program: Out-of-work homeowners collecting jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department can receive as much as $3,000 per month in mortgage assistance for up to 12 months.
  • Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: Homeowners who are behind two months or more on their payments could receive as much as $25,000 to help them “catch up” on their past-due mortgage payments. Homeowners must have recovered from their financial hardship and be able to make their mortgage payments going forward in order to be eligible for the program.
  • Transition Assistance Program: Homeowners who have reached an agreement with their mortgage servicer for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or a short sale could receive up to $5,000 in relocation assistance.

Of course, homeowners must also meet county-by-county income requirements, and their mortgage servicer must participate in Keep Your Home California. Currently, more than 200 servicers are enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers. To check the complete list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program, visit: http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

If you would like more information or want to apply for Keep Your Home California, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (Spanish speakers should visit http://conservatucasacalifornia.org/). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.


Keep Your Home California’s severe negative equity hardship criteria for the Principal Reduction Program helps more homeowners with underwater mortgages

Despite a better economy and much-improved housing markets in many part of the state, a significant number of homeowners in California continue to struggle with underwater mortgages.

In fact, about 10% to 15% of homeowners in the state still owe more on their mortgage than the current market value of their house, according to recent industry reports.

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Many of these homes are in the inland areas of California, such as the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties) and the San Joaquin Valley, from Bakersfield to Stockton. Regardless of where homeowners live – Redlands or Redding – if they are dealing with a significantly underwater mortgage, financial help is possible with Keep Your Home California’s Principal Reduction Program (PRP).

PRP offers as much as $100,000 to help homeowners who have experienced a financial hardship, have severe negative equity or both. Since severe negative equity reduces the options available to homeowners dealing with unaffordable mortgage payments, it is recognized as a hardship under the PRP guidelines.

Homeowners with a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or greater – for example, the unpaid principal balance of the first mortgage is $360,000, but the current value of the home is only $300,000 – meet the qualified hardship requirement for the Principal Reduction Program. Based on current data, many California homeowners with mortgages have a loan-to value ratio greater than 120%.

If you are a homeowner with an underwater mortgage, you should apply for this free, government sponsored program. Between April and June of this year, homeowners that qualified for the PRP saw a reduction in the median property loan-to-value decrease from 146% to 112%, and experience an average 20% reduction in their monthly payments.

Homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, and their mortgage servicer must participate in the Principal Reduction Program. Currently, almost 140 servicers are enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers. To check the complete list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program, visit: http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

If you would like more information or want to apply for Keep Your Home California, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (Spanish speakers should visit http://conservatucasacalifornia.org/). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


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