Homeowners can benefit from multiple programs with Keep Your Home California

Sometimes bad luck can hit more than once. A cut in pay, job loss, divorce, or extraordinary medical expenses from a serious health issue, can occasionally come in waves.

Just ask anyone who has lived more than a couple of decades. Life is indeed a comedy – and a tragedy.

And, when life’s challenges make for rough waters, Keep Your Home California wants to provide a safe harbor.

The free mortgage-assistance program was designed to help homeowners who are having difficulty paying their mortgages due to financial hardships – multiple times, if needed.

In fact, about one of every six homeowners approved for Keep Your Home California has used the federally funded program at least twice.

Now, homeowners must meet eligibility requirements each time they apply for the program – a financial hardship, county-by-county income limits and their mortgage servicer must participate in Keep Your Home California. They also cannot exceed a lifetime cap of $100,000 in financial assistance under the state-managed program.

But many homeowners approved for the program can apply for more help down the road.

The best – and the most common – example is out-of-work homeowners who can tap twice (or more) into the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program offers homeowners as much as 18 months or $54,000 in mortgage assistance, whichever comes first.

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When qualifying jobless homeowners are approved for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, their mortgage payments are covered while they look for work. Many homeowners may find another job in a matter of a few months, allowing them to leave the program with many months and thousands of dollars still available.

If they involuntarily lose their new job, the homeowner can reapply for Keep Your Home California and the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. About 7,000, or almost 10%, of homeowners approved for Keep Your Home California have received assistance from the unemployment program at least twice.

Homeowners can also apply for assistance from other programs, though not at the same time. For example, let’s say the out-of-work homeowner had a monthly mortgage payment of $2,500 and used the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program for six months – or a total of $15,000.

If the homeowner has a new job, but his pay dropped with the new position, he may be able to apply for the Principal Reduction Program, which offers up to $100,000 in mortgage assistance. The program cuts the outstanding principal balance, which often results in the monthly mortgage payments going down, to establish an affordable mortgage for the homeowner.

Under the scenario, the homeowner could receive as much as $85,000 from the Principal Reduction Program (remember they already benefited with $15,000 from the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program). The maximum amount each homeowner could receive from Keep Your Home California is $100,000.

Of course, homeowners can combine other programs, including the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, which offers as much as $54,000 to help homeowners catch-up on their past-due mortgage payments. Whether or not a homeowner will ultimately qualify for more than one Keep Your Home California will depend on the homeowner’s circumstances, particularly, whether they have suffered a subsequent financial hardship that has affected their ability to pay their mortgage.

Before homeowners can apply for Keep Your Home California, they must meet eligibility requirements, including a financial hardship, such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce, death in the family or extraordinary medical expenses.

In addition, homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements and their mortgage servicer – the company that collects the monthly payment – needs to participate in Keep Your Home California.

Homeowners interested in learning more or applying for the program should call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org or www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org for Spanish speakers. The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Calls can be taken in virtually any language through a free translation service.