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.

 

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More than 10,000 homeowners helped in 2016

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.

Vinh L

“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.

KYHC Funding Comparison

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 


What is principal reduction and how does it help homeowners?

How much does principal reduction help homeowners struggling with their mortgage due to a financial hardship?

Just ask homeowners Charles and Kathleen, Gordon and Bettie, or Elaine (click the links and read their stories).

All these homeowners have benefited from Keep Your Home California’s Principal Reduction Program, which offers as much as $100,000 in principal reduction – all for free. In fact, almost 9,500 homeowners have been approved for the Principal Reduction Program.

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Charles and Kathleen

The popular program assists homeowners with unaffordable and/or underwater mortgages in California. About one of every eight homeowners with a mortgage in California has a negative equity mortgage.

Almost half of the homeowners approved for Keep Your Home California in second-quarter 2016 were enrolled in the Principal Reduction Program.

The program lowers principal – the amount owed on the mortgage – and also often reduces the monthly payment. In fact, the average homeowner approved for the Principal Reduction Program enjoyed a monthly mortgage payment reduction of $258, from $1,400 to $1,142.

That means fewer dollars owed and more money in your pocket. It’s a winning combination for everyone, from homeowners to local businesses.

San Francisco homeowners Charles and Kathleen save about $300 every month, thanks to Keep Your Home California’s Principal Reduction Program. “It’s like a weight taken off our shoulders,” Charles says.

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Elaine

The lower monthly payments have definitely helped Elaine of Southern California, who was forced into an earlier-than-planned retirement and receives significantly less income, mostly from Social Security. Her principal was reduced by $81,500, which lowered her monthly mortgage by almost $400.

 

“It’s really made a big difference,” Elaine says

Bettie and Gordon, also of Southern California, save a few hundred dollars every month from the program.

“That was probably one of the happiest days of our lives,” Bettie says of when she and her husband were approved for the Principal Reduction Program.  “The big thing is we are still in our home, and we can stay here.”

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Bettie

And that’s the goal behind the Principal Reduction Program. A vast majority of homeowners who have received principal reduction assistance from Keep Your Home California remain in their home two years later.

Keep Your Home California has three forms of principal reduction. Each plan helps homeowners in a unique way.

  • Principal Reduction-Affordability Provides principal reduction assistance to eligible homeowners with an unaffordable mortgage payment, defined as a debt-to-income ratio greater than 38% of the gross household income. The homeowner does not need to have an underwater – or negative equity – mortgage. The average homeowner has their principal balance reduced by $64,478, and the monthly payment by $296.
  • Principal Reduction-Recast Allows homeowners to obtain an affordable payment and lower total debt associated with their negative equity mortgage without using a servicer-provided loan modification. The rate and terms of the loan do not change, the loan is simply re-amortized based on the new, lower outstanding principal balance, which leads to lower monthly payments. The average homeowner has their principal balance reduced by $56,306, and the monthly payment by $217.
  • Modification In conjunction with a servicer-provided loan modification, program funds are used to lower the homeowner’s outstanding principal balance. The modification changes the terms of the mortgage to ensure the homeowner will have affordable monthly payments going forward. The average homeowner has their principal balance reduced by $37,193, and the monthly payment by $540.

Now, homeowners must have endured a financial hardship, such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce, death in the family, extraordinary medical bills, or other financial challenges in order to qualify for the Principal Reduction Program. Keep Your Home California representatives will help determine whether the hardship qualifies for the program.

California Suburban Sprawl

 

Homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements and their mortgage servicer – the company that collects the monthly payment – must participate in Keep Your Home California. Almost 190 servicers are enrolled in the Principal Reduction Program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.

Homeowners interested in learning more or applying for the program should call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) or find more information at 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.

 

 


A mortgage payment could be cheaper than paying rent

Some California homeowners dealing with a cash crunch could be considering difficult but necessary options — perhaps foreclosure, a short sale or even selling their home with little or no equity afterwards.

But what happens when the deal closes or the homeowner walks away? Where will the homeowner and their family live?

It’s an important and often pricey question.

California homeowners that believe living mortgage-free means more money in their pocket, may want to reconsider. In many cases, former homeowners could actually pay more in monthly rent than their previous monthly mortgage payment, according to industry reports.

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California rental rates have increased about 15% during the past year, and more in some areas of the state. In fact, the Golden State has six of the 18 most-expensive metropolitan areas in the nation for rent, including four in the top 10.

A two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco will cost about $4,650 per month — the highest rent in the nation and almost $1,000 more than second-place New York City, according to Zumper.

Los Angeles is the second most-expensive city for rent in California (and fifth nationwide) at $2,500, followed by San Jose (sixth in the U.S) at $2,308 for a two-bedroom home. Oakland finished as fourth most expensive at $2,270, followed by San Diego at $1,840, according to Zumper.

Earlier this year, the Economic Roundtable put out a report that found 13,000 people become homeless in Los Angeles County each month, due to the high cost of housing.

Even if you live in California’s midsize, inland cities, rent could cost a few hundred dollars more than a mortgage, according to Zillow. For example, the average rent for a three-bedroom home in Sacramento is $1,459, with Bakersfield and Redding at $1,374 and $1,311, respectively.

Sure, as a renter you don’t have to pay property tax and homeowner’s insurance, but you don’t have the tax benefits of homeownership, either. Keeping people as homeowners with an affordable mortgage payment is a better option than having them enter the high-cost rental market due to a financial hardship.

So, what if you could actually stay in your home?

Well, Keep Your Home California, the free mortgage-assistance program, has four distinct programs that could help. The federally funded, state-managed program has one primary goal: help homeowners stay in their homes.

For example, Keep Your Home California’s Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program allows homeowners to catch-up on their past-due payments, up to $54,000. Now, homeowners must be able to make the payments going forward, but this gives them a clean slate and the opportunity to remain in their home.

The Principal Reduction Program offers as much as $100,000, lowering their principal balance and often reducing the monthly mortgage payment by hundreds of dollars. The program is designed to help homeowners with unaffordable or underwater mortgages.

And the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program provides up to $3,000 per month for 18 months, or a total of $54,000, for out-of-work homeowners. Rather than worrying about the monthly mortgage payment, homeowners can focus on finding a job.

Of course, Keep Your Home California has some requirements, including the homeowner’s mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must participate in the program. More than 240 mortgage servicers are currently enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase.

And homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, which range from about $70,000 in rural counties to more than $120,000 in some Bay Area counties. Additionally, homeowners must have suffered a financial hardship — such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce or extraordinary medical expenses — in order to be eligible for the program. Severe negative equity, a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or more, is considered a financial hardship for the Principal Reduction Program.

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 (Spanish speakers 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 iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 


Keep Your Home California helps homeowners with mortgage payments

Free, state-run program has assisted more than 55,000 homeowners

When a big bank closed a local service center, Edith and dozens of other employees who owned homes were suddenly without work and wondered how to keep their homes.

Cash-strapped homeowner Carrie and her husband got behind on their mortgage payments when he lost his construction job.

Frank battled health issues and hefty medical expenses, and, to make matters worse, his longtime employer closed the plant where he worked. His one-time affordable mortgage was now an impossible-to-make payment.

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Keep Your Home California—the state’s free mortgage-assistance program — has helped all three and more than 55,000 other financially struggling low- to moderate-income homeowners during the past four years.

Recent changes to multiple Keep Your Home California programs have made it easier than ever for homeowners to qualify for assistance. The program began helping homeowners in February 2011, after the state received almost $2 billion from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund. To date, more than 55,000 households have received $1.1 billion in assistance. Hundreds of millions of dollars remain available to homeowners, who are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

“This is truly changing our life, changing our future and rescuing my family and our home,” said Carrie, who was able to catch up on her mortgage payments thanks to Keep Your Home California. “Words can’t express our gratitude for what has been done for us. We feel like this is a fresh start for us.”

Much has changed with the economy in recent years, but there are many homeowners who continue to benefit from the program. About one of every 12 mortgages in the state are with homeowners who owe more than the value of their home, and 1.2 million Californians are still without work.

“Despite a better economy and job market, there are still many homeowners who are faced with numerous challenges, from catching up on their mortgage payments to finding work,” said Tia Boatman Patterson, Executive Director of the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA), which oversees the state-run program. “We’re just as committed today as in the first days of the program to helping California homeowners prevent avoidable foreclosures.”

Keep Your Home California has four programs to help homeowners who are experiencing struggles with their first mortgage:

  • Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners who owe more than their home is worth and/or have an unaffordable monthly payment can receive as much as $100,000 to lower their principal balance – and reduce their monthly mortgage payments.
  • Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program: Out-of-work homeowners eligible for jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department can receive as much as $3,000 per month in mortgage assistance for up to 18 months, or a total of $54,000.
  • Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: Homeowners who are behind two months or more on their payments could receive as much as $54,000 to help them “catch up” on their past-due mortgage payments. Homeowners must have recovered from their financial hardship and be able to make their mortgage payments going forward in order to be eligible for the program.
  • Transition Assistance Program: Homeowners who have reached an agreement with their mortgage servicer for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or a short sale could receive up to $5,000 in relocation assistance.

Keep Your Home California also launched the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program, which provides low and moderate income senior homeowners assistance to avoid foreclosure. Senior homeowners who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure due to delinquent property expenses associated with their Federal Housing Administration-insured reverse mortgages could qualify for up to $25,000. The pilot program started in February 2015.

Regardless of the program used, a vast majority of homeowners are pleased with Keep Your Home California And 93 percent of homeowners still own their homes two years after receiving assistance from the program.

“My house was underwater, I just couldn’t make it,” said Frank, who battled cancer, health care bills and a handful of mortgage servicers in an effort to refinance his mortgage “I got behind on all of my bills. I had to choose every month what bills to pay. I tried to refinance, but they weren’t willing to restructure the loan.”

Then, he qualified for assistance from the Keep Your Home California Principal Reduction Program, knocking off almost $50,000 from his outstanding balance and saving him $300 per month.

In order to qualify, homeowners must meet program eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship – such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, a death in the family or extraordinary medical expenses – and meet county-by-county income requirements.

A homeowner’s mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must participate in the program. About 240 mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase, are enrolled in Keep Your Home California.

“I was so happy, I cried,” says Edith, who was able to attend school for several months while the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program paid her monthly mortgage. The single mother recently completed a degree program and has found a county government position in Northern California. Keep Your Home California has “made my life easier, better.”

And there are many other homeowners who could benefit from the program.

Homeowners are encouraged to visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org for more information on the programs or call 888-954-KEEP (5337) to speak with a representative. 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 at no cost in virtually any language.


Free mortgage events connect homeowners with Keep Your Home California counselors, representatives

 Keep Your Home California is often on the road, attending events and helping homeowners with their mortgage issues, from Lake County in Northern California to the desert communities of Southern California.

It’s an effort to connect with, educate and encourage homeowners about the free mortgage-assistance program, which has helped more than 55,000 people since February 2011—or the equivalent of about half of the people in Richmond, Temecula or Ventura.

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So far, Keep Your Home California representatives have attended 93 events since the beginning of 2015, or more than 12 per month. In fact, the state program has participated in 778 events since early 2011—more events than baseball games played by any one of the Golden State’s Major League Baseball teams over the same period.

The free events allow counselors and program representatives to meet face-to-face with homeowners and answer questions about Keep Your Home California, and even help with the application process. The Keep Your Home California website offers an up-to-date calendar of events for homeowners.

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Keep Your Home California often partners on these free events with mortgage servicers that participate in the program—including Bank of America and Wells Fargo— and the dozens of housing counseling agencies statewide that meet one-on-one with homeowners.

The collaborative effort benefits the housing counselors, the mortgage servicers, Keep Your Home California, and most importantly, financially strapped homeowners interested in the program.

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Thousands of homeowners have been exposed to the state-managed program at these events during the past four-plus years. From couples who are casualties of corporate cost-cutting to families faced with hard-to-make mortgage payments, Keep Your Home California has a program ready to help:

  • Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners who owe more than their home is worth and/or have an unaffordable payment can cut their mortgage principal as much as $100,000 while saving hundreds of dollars every month. Homeowners approved for the program enjoyed an average savings of $216 per month, from $1,316 to $1,100 during first-quarter 2015, the latest figures available.
  • Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program: Out-of-work homeowners who have received jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department in the previous 30 days can receive as much as $3,000 per month for up to 18 months for their mortgage payments.
  • Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: Homeowners who are behind two months or more on their payments can qualify for as much as $54,000 to help them “catch up” on their past-due mortgage payments. Homeowners must have recovered from their financial hardship and be able to make their mortgage payments going forward in order to be eligible for the program.
  • Transition Assistance Program: Homeowners who have reached an agreement for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sale with their mortgage servicer could receive up to $5,000 in relocation assistance.
  • Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program: Homeowners 62 years or older who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure due to delinquent property expenses associated with their Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured reverse mortgages can qualify for as much as $25,000 in assistance. The program reinstates past-due property-related expenses such as taxes and homeowner’s insurance, and provides up to 12 months of additional assistance to ensure homeowners get back on their feet.

If you would like more information about Keep Your Home California and the five programs, attend an upcoming event or call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (Spanish speakers 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.


Keep Your Home California’s record-setting year is the latest evidence detailing the continued need for the free mortgage-assistance program

Facts and figures are the foundation for Keep Your Home California, from funding issued to the number of mortgage servicers participating in the program.

And the free mortgage-assistance program had another record year in 2014, with a record $340.3 million approved to help homeowners, about $33 million more than in 2013. In fact, about 38% of the dollars issued overall for the program were in 2014.

Three of the four programs had a boost in funding issued to homeowners last year, led by $160.4 million for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.

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Under the program, out-of-work homeowners eligible for jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department can receive as much as $3,000 per month for up to 18 months. The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, which issued $152 million in 2013, was recently expanded from 12 months to 18 months.

The Principal Reduction Program accounted for $136 million in funding provided to homeowners last year, a healthy gain from the $125.6 million in 2013. The program offers a maximum of $100,000 to homeowners with underwater mortgages.

Together, the Principal Reduction and Unemployment Mortgage Assistance programs combined for 87% of the funding issued by Keep Your Home California in 2014.

Both programs address big challenges still facing homeowners in the state – a difficult job market for the 1.34 million Californians looking for work, and the 1 in 10 homeowners with mortgages who owe more than the value of their home.

They also provide the most assistance available for homeowners — $100,000 with the Principal Reduction Program and $54,000 under the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.

The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program – the third-largest program in terms of assistance available to homeowners — experienced the greatest increase of funding provided on a percentage basis at almost 52%; from $28.3 million in 2013 to $42.9 million last year.

The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program offers as much as $25,000 to help homeowners “catch-up” on their past-due mortgage payments. Of course, homeowners approved for the program must be able to make their mortgage payments going forward.

Finally, the Transition Assistance Program had a slight decline in the number of homeowners approved and funding issued last year compared to 2013. The program helped 321 homeowners with a total of $1.02 million last year, about 45 fewer homeowners than 2013. The Transition Assistance Program offers as much as $5,000 to help homeowners who have an approved deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sale in order to relocate to a new housing situation.

In order to qualify for any of the Keep Your Home California programs, homeowners must meet eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship – such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, death or extraordinary medical benefits. It should be noted that homeowners with a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or greater could meet the qualified hardship requirement under the Principal Reduction Program.

Also, homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, and their mortgage servicer must participate in Keep Your Home California. Currently, more than 200 servicers are enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers.

Keep Your Home California added 46 mortgage servicers in 2014, a dramatic increase from the nine enrolled when the federally fund program started in February 2011. To check the complete current list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program, visit http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

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.