Keep Your Home California establishes new program to help seniors with reverse mortgages

Hard-hit seniors behind on their reverse mortgage-related payments, including property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, could get a much-needed helping hand from Keep Your Home California.

The free mortgage-assistance program has announced a new pilot program to help low- and moderate-income senior homeowners 62 years and older who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure after getting behind on their reverse mortgage-related payments.

The Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program, announced in mid-February, will help homeowners with Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured reverse mortgages to qualify for as much as $25,000 in assistance. Homeowners must have an FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) in order to be eligible for the program.

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Along with the financial assistance, homeowners will receive budget counseling and may receive up to 12 months of additional assistance for future property expenses to ensure homeowners get back on their feet.

Senior homeowners must meet the program’s county-by-county income limits and have endured a financial hardship – a cut in pay, a job loss, a divorce, death in the family, or extraordinary medical bills – in order to qualify for help.

Homeowners must also live in the home with the reverse mortgage and be able to make the property expenses going forward.

Thousands of senior homeowners have used the FHA HECM product, and many have experienced a change in their financial situation beyond their control. Many of these senior homeowners with reverse mortgages are in the Central Valley, the Chico/Redding region of Northern California and the High Desert of Southern California.

Homeowners seeking assistance should contact their reverse mortgage servicer to begin the application process for the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program. Currently, six servicers are participating in the pilot program – Champion, Financial Freedom, James B. Nutter, Reverse Mortgage Solutions (RMS), SunWest and Wells Fargo.

These six companies handle a large majority of the FHA HECM reverse mortgages in California.

Keep Your Home California has set aside $25 million for the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program, enough funds to help about 1,400 homeowners.

If you would like more information about the program, please call Keep Your Home California at 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 Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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Keep Your Home California website answers some tax-related questions, but encourages homeowners to seek tax professionals before filing their returns

It happens this time every year.

The commercials begin, the documents and statements arrive in the mail, and the clock seems to tick just a little faster.

Welcome to tax season.

tax timeIt’s also when we get quite a few calls and emails from homeowners who have been helped by Keep Your Home California. Now, we know a lot about our free mortgage-assistance program and many other mortgage-related topics, but when it comes to personal income taxes …

Well, we must let the professionals handle tax questions.

However, the Keep Your Home California website’s Frequently Asked Questions page addresses several of the most-asked questions from homeowners:

  • I didn’t receive or I lost my 1098-MA statement from Keep Your Home California, can I get another one?
  • I prepare my own taxes each year. Where can I obtain information on the 1098-MA statement?
  • Does the 1098-MA replace the 1098 tax document that I get from my mortgage servicer?

And, of course, the most frequent question that raises concern among homeowners: Do I have to pay taxes on the benefits assistance received from Keep Your Home California?

We’re sorry, but our program cannot provide tax advice and strongly urges homeowners to consult a tax professional regarding this and any other tax-related questions. Additional information is also available from the Internal Revenue Service.

Now, 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 hywards at FreeDigitalPhotos.net