Keep Your Home California is always looking to improve its free mortgage-assistance program to better help homeowners, from folks dealing with an unaffordable mortgage payment to those looking for work.
Quite often it’s a minor change, a simple tweak that will affect few applicants and homeowners.
But sometimes, the changes deserve a bit more attention – including a blog post — and will help many homeowners, like those the program has recently implemented.
The most notable changes are with the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. Keep Your Home California’s most popular program covers the monthly mortgage payment for out-of-work homeowners eligible for unemployment benefits from the state Employment Development Department.
Keep Your Home California eliminated the $3,000 monthly mortgage payment limit connected to the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. The program will now cover mortgage payments for qualifying homeowners – regardless of the amount – for as long as 18 months or a total of $54,000, whichever comes first.
For example, out-of-work homeowners with a $3,600 monthly mortgage payment could get up to 15 months of assistance from the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.
The change will help homeowners with larger mortgage payments who previously would not have qualified and still ensures that all homeowners have the same amount of assistance (up to $54,000) available to them.
A couple of other changes will also affect the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. Homeowners can be eligible for the program if they received unemployment benefits from the EDD within the previous 60 days, double the current 30-day limit.
Even if a homeowner’s EDD benefits have already expired, as long as it was less than 60 days ago, they can still qualify for assistance. This change should give jobless homeowners more time to apply for the program, especially if their unemployment benefits are ending.
Other changes to Keep Your Home California:
- Homeowners can now apply for and tap into the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program multiple times, if necessary. The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program helps homeowners catch-up on their past-due mortgage payments, up to a total of $54,000. For example, homeowners could get $5,000 to catch-up on their past-due payments, then later another $15,000 – but they cannot exceed a total of $54,000. However, homeowners must apply each time for the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program and have a new hardship.
- Severe negative equity under the Principal Reduction Program will decline to a loan-to-value ratio of 115% from the previous 120%. Again, this will allow more homeowners to be eligible and get much-needed help from the program.
- Homeowners with interest-only loans are now eligible for assistance from the Principal Reduction Program. The monthly mortgage payment must be affordable, per program guidelines, once it converts to a fully amortized loan, in order for homeowners with interest-only loans to qualify. Previously, interest-only loans were ineligible for Principal Reduction program consideration.
- Keep Your Home California has increased the current mortgage balance for the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Program, from $625,000 to $750,000. The program offers as much as $25,000 to help seniors who are behind on their property-related expenses, such as their property taxes or insurance.
All of the changes are designed to help more homeowners qualify for the mortgage-assistance program. However, before homeowners can apply for Keep Your Home California, they must meet the core requirements, including a financial hardship, such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce, death in the family or extraordinary medical expenses.
In addition to the financial hardship, 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.
Keep Your Home California has issued over $1.8 billion – or about 85% of the funding allocated for the program – to 76,000 households across the state.
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.