Expanded eligibility allows more homeowners to qualify for thousands of dollars in mortgage assistancePosted: January 26, 2012
Sometimes change is good. And for many cash-strapped homeowners, our changes could make it a lot easier to keep your home.
Keep Your Home California has expanded some key eligibility criteria for the federally funded mortgage assistance program.
A couple of highlights include removing the cash-out restriction from all four programs and allowing homeowners who own additional properties to be eligible for Keep Your Home California. And out-of-work homeowners now can receive as much as $3,000 per month for a total of nine months, rather than the previous six-month limit, in the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, easily the most used of the four programs.
CalHFA Executive Director Claudia Cappio says officials are “continuously evaluating our experience … and making adjustments like these based on the initial results” of the program, a $2 billion effort established under the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund to help low- and moderate-income homeowners who are delinquent or facing imminent default on their mortgage.
Here are the changes, with more details available at www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org:
- Remove the so-called “cash-out” restriction from all four programs.
Homeowners were previously not eligible for the Principal Reduction Program if they had completed a cash-out refinance of their home. Eligible homeowners can receive as much as $100,000 under this program that requires a dollar-per-dollar match from the mortgage servicer.
- Allow homeowners who own additional properties to qualify for the programs.
Lifting the policy helps address situations where homeowners were additional signers on a home for a relative.
- Increase unemployment assistance from six months to nine months.
Jobless homeowners can receive as much as $3,000 per month for up to nine months to cover mortgage, tax and insurance payments through the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. However, homeowners must be receiving benefits from the Employment Development Department. (By the way, if you were previously approved for the program when the limit was six months, you must call the counseling center to determine if you are eligible for the three-month extension.)
- Increase the maximum funds from $15,000 to $20,000 to catch up on their past-due mortgage payments.
The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program allows homeowners who have faced a financial hardship to reinstate their past-due mortgage loans.
Of course, your mortgage servicer – basically the company that collects the monthly payments (read this earlier blog for more information) – must be participating in Keep Your Home California. More than 50 mortgage servicers have joined the program, covering about 90% of the mortgages in the state. For a list of servicers and the programs they participate in, visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org/participating.htm.
Keep Your Home California has four programs, with each outlined on www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org or on our Spanish-language site www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org. You can also call the counseling center 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
More than 11,000 homeowners have already benefited or are in the process to receive funds from the state-run program, which was fully implemented in February. There are funds to help about 90,000 more struggling homeowners, so contact Keep Your Home California to find out if you could be next.
Some people are more comfortable with face-to-face conversations than talking over the phone, especially when it comes to saving their home.
We want cash-strapped homeowners – many whom have hard-to-imagine financial hardships – to be comfortable in applying for and asking questions about Keep Your Home California, a state-run program with $2 billion for mortgage assistance. Our counseling center in Southern California handles thousands of calls every week, detailing the four programs and determining whether homeowners are eligible and, if so, for how much assistance.
But we’ve also established an extensive network of U.S. Housing and Urban Development-approved nonprofit agencies with counselors who can meet with homeowners in their communities, from Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the North Coast in Arcata to the Neighborhood House Association in San Diego. The agency counselors can meet face-to-face with hard-hit homeowners, educating them about the four programs available and walking them through the application process.
These community counselors offer free help, from the first conversation to the approval of funding, just as if the homeowners applied by calling Keep Your Home California.
About 35 counseling agencies partner with Keep Your Home California and offer these on-site services statewide. A complete list of the participating agencies is available at www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org/counseling.htm.
These agencies are critical partners with Keep Your Home California, and they know the programs inside and out.
It’s also important to know that these counseling agencies can educate and help homeowners learn more about other options for mortgage assistance, in case the homeowner does not qualify for Keep Your Home California.
As always, if you would like more information about Keep Your Home California and our four programs, check www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org/ in Spanish) or call 888-954-5337 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.