The U.S. Treasury Department, as part of the rescue of the financial system in 2008, set aside funds to help homeowners in 18 states – including California – hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. The California Housing Finance Agency, after consulting with community leaders statewide, established the four programs of Keep Your Home California.
The state-run program has almost $2 billion and a clearly defined goal – keep homeowners facing foreclosure in their homes, whenever possible (as if our name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, huh?).
State officials established the four programs to meet that goal, from helping the behind-in-payments homeowner to those who need some money after a short sale. Two other programs also are available, assisting unemployed homeowners struggling to pay their bills and a principal-reduction program for homeowners with much-lower home values (many owe more than the value of their home).
Keep Your Home California has earmarked $875 million to Unemployment Mortgage Assistance, the largest of the four programs. The Principal Reduction program is the second largest at $790 million, followed by the Mortgage Reinstatement program at $129 million. The remaining dollars are earmarked to help homeowners relocate after a short sale; as long as the loan service approves the plan (next week’s blog will provide more details on the four programs).
The federal funds, part of a $75 billion effort by the Obama administration to help troubled borrowers, also benefits the state and its residents, even those who are current on their mortgage.
The program helps the still-struggling state in numerous ways. Foreclosed homes are bad for business, the economy and neighborhoods, just ask anyone who lives next to a long-empty home.
“Foreclosures create a huge problem for the city, and I think the program will be beneficial in keeping people in their homes,” Signal Hill redevelopment manager Elise McCaleb recently told the Signal Tribune in Southern California.
And California has far too many people losing their homes. The Golden State has been one of the hardest-hit housing markets, rivaling Arizona, Florida and Nevada. The state has averaged more than 15,000 homes entering foreclosure every month during the past two years, according to industry trackers.
So, if you are facing foreclosure, you’re far from alone.
That’s why we encourage homeowners to call 888-954-KEEP or click http://www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org/ to get more information and see if they qualify.
Welcome to Keep Your Home California’s blog – and our first-ever posting!
Let’s be clear, foreclosure is a difficult, emotional, gut-wrenching process. Foreclosure turns the American Dream into a real-life nightmare.
Keep Your Home California is an alternative to foreclosure for low and moderate income homeowners, hopefully turning toss-and-turn nights into restful sleep.
So far, more than 25,000 families are well on their way to keeping their homes since the program started early this year. While not every homeowner will qualify, we are working to make this process as simple as possible.
We have some of the largest mortgage servicers — including Bank of America and Wells Fargo – to much-smaller providers in the program. For a list of servicers who are participating, check http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/servicer.htm. Please note that your servicer must be participating for you to obtain benefits from this program. If your servicer is not participating, please check back as we are consistently updating our list – you may also contact your servicer to see when they will be joining the program.
We encourage homeowners facing foreclosure to check www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org, which answers many questions about the program, including the first steps of determining eligibility. The website details income levels – because low or moderate income levels vary based on where you live ($75,000 in Contra Costa County doesn’t go nearly as far as in Fresno County) – and outlines the four programs, from getting cash-strapped consumers current on their mortgage payments to helping the jobless remain in their homes. And some homeowners are eligible for multiple programs, and tens of thousands of dollars.
Homeowners also can call Keep Your Home California representatives Monday through Saturday at 888-954-KEEP (5337). Representatives can answer questions and walk homeowners through the process, determining if they are eligible. You will need some uninterrupted time for the call.
If you are serious about avoiding foreclosure – and keeping your home – start doing the homework and take the next step. Check the site, call the toll-free number and make the commitment to avoiding foreclosure.