Keep Your Home California recently closed the books on another strong and successful year, assisting more than 10,000 homeowners from Calexico to Crescent City – and just about every community in between.
The federally funded program has become much-appreciated by homeowners, helping them through difficult and stressful chapters of their lives. Many homeowners dealing with hardships – such as a job loss, pay cut, a divorce, a death in the family or even extraordinary medical bills – are helped by the free mortgage-assistance program.
“The support is a big financial relief,” says homeowner Vinh L., who benefited from the Principal Reduction Program through Keep Your Home California that saves his family almost $400 per month. “We were in huge financial distress.”
And that’s the mission of Keep Your Home California, which has issued more than twice as much funding to homeowners than any other state in the Hardest Hit Fund program.
Even with an improved economy and housing market, there are still many homeowners who need help. For example, there are an estimated 400,000 out-of-work homeowners in the state. About 310,000 California homeowners with a mortgage are considered underwater.
Keep Your Home California is definitely needed and continued to help at an impressive pace in 2016. Homeowners who were helped by the state-managed program received more money, on average, than previous years.
In 2016, Keep Your Home California assisted 10,262 homeowners with a total of $342.2 million in funding, the second best year in terms of the amount of assistance provided to homeowners. Last year’s funding was down slightly compared to 2015, when 11,173 homeowners received a total of $352 million.
The average homeowner received a record $33,346 in 2016, almost $1,850 more than in 2015 – and $8,359 more than 2014. A boost in Principal Reduction program recipients, where homeowners can receive as much as $100,000, accounted for the increase.
Clearly, there still are many homeowners who need help in the state. Whether it’s catching up on past-due mortgage payments or seeking assistance for an unaffordable or underwater mortgage, Keep Your Home California has a program to help.
The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program remains the most utilized, helping 5,699 homeowners in 2016. The average assistance was $26,594 – almost $2,300 more than a year earlier.
The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program offers as much as $3,000 per month for up to 18 months – or a total of $54,000 – to help out-of-work homeowners eligible for jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department. The program allows homeowners to focus on finding a job rather than worry about their mortgage payments for a while.
The Principal Reduction Program is the largest of the five programs based on funding issued — $154.8 million in 2016. The average homeowner approved for principal reduction received about $62,390. The program provides a maximum of $100,000 in mortgage assistance.
Of course, the now 6-year-old program also has an economic impact on nearby homeowners, the surrounding communities, and even property and sales-tax revenue.
An economic impact report conducted by Dr. Joseph C. Von Nessen, a Research Economist at the University of South Carolina, Darla Moore School of Business, determined that for every $1 issued to help homeowners through Keep Your Home California, $2 of economic activity was preserved within the state’s economy.
Another highlight from the report, found that Keep Your Home California preserved a total of $2.5 billion of economic activity by preserving jobs, tax revenue and property values of nearby homeowners across the state.
A few other highlights from 2016:
- Keep Your Home California received an additional $383.3 million in funding from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The dollars will allow Keep Your Home California to help at least another 12,000 homeowners. The program sunset date was also extended to December 31 2020, or until all of the money is issued to homeowners, whichever comes first.
- Added 30 new mortgage servicers to the program. Almost 270 mortgage servicers – including Bank of America and Wells Fargo – currently participate in the program.
- Developed six homeowner stories for online and TV commercials in English and Spanish. If you haven’t seen them, they are available on the Keep Your Home California website.
Keep Your Home California has assisted more than 71,000 homeowners with approximately $1.7 billion in funding.
As always, we encourage more low to moderate income homeowners to apply for Keep Your Home California.
In order to apply, homeowners must have 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.
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.
Editor’s note: Wells Fargo has provided a special guest blog to reiterate the importance of collaboration in foreclosure prevention efforts and to detail an upcoming event where homeowners can get assistance.
By Martin Sanchez, Vice President of Wells Fargo Mortgage Market Outreach
California’s economic recovery continues to show encouraging signs and while the state’s foreclosure rate is among the lowest in the country, there are still many struggling homeowners in the Golden State.
That’s why at Wells Fargo we believe in collaboration with credit counselors such as BALANCE and programs like Keep Your Home California (KYHC) are essential to providing solutions to help struggling homeowners identify resources to stay in their home.
For instance, on April 5, we are joining BALANCE and the KYHC program to host a Home Preservation Workshop in Antioch, California to assist Wells Fargo homeowners facing payment challenges. At the Home Preservation Workshop, homeowners will have the opportunity to meet face to face with housing counselors and Wells Fargo to learn about options that may help you overcome payment challenges including:
- Understand how you may be able to keep your home and avoid foreclosure,
- Find out ways to help you get back on track with your mortgage payments,
- Determine your KYHC eligibility to accept the offer of assistance
- Connect with helpful resources such as housing counselors, and
- Learn about online tools available to you.
We have learned when we are able to work with customers we are often successful in helping them identify a solution to avoid foreclosure. We are not alone in our efforts and our collaboration with trusted nonprofits such as HUD-approved counselors and programs like Keep Your Home California makes all the difference for assisting homeowners who are coping with very real and life-changing struggles such as job loss, underemployment, health issues, divorce and even having negative equity on your home.
Such challenges may feel insurmountable for homeowners to manage on their own. Or even worse, homeowners can be victimized by unscrupulous mortgage modification scammers that create false-promises of modifications with a fee of hundreds and even thousands of dollars. As time passes, a homeowner’s difficult circumstances may become dire and opportunities to provide solutions to help keep them in their home while workout options fade away.
Call your lender or a HUD-approved counselor
My advice to homeowners is if you are facing financial difficulties, the most important action you can take is to contact your lender or a trusted HUD-approved credit counselor. That’s why the work of trusted HUD-approved nonprofits such as BALANCE and Keep Your Home California is so vital for homeowners and our country’s housing recovery. At Wells Fargo, this kind of collaboration is invaluable to assist the homeowners.
My view is the work of trusted HUD-approved counselor does for homeowners is an important complement to mortgage servicers like Wells Fargo. And even as we see signs the housing market is improving, Wells Fargo believes supporting the work of HUD-approved housing and credit counselors is the right thing to do.
Home Preservation Workshop hosted by BALANCE with Keep Your Home California and Wells Fargo.
When: Wednesday, April 5
Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Branch
Somersville Town Center
2601 Somersville Road
Antioch, California, 94509
To register online go to http://www.wellsfargo.com/attend; And for more information, call 1-866-790-3276.