This week the California Housing Finance Agency announced the full implementation of four programs to help families remain in their homes. The programs, under the umbrella title of Keep Your Home California, are federally funded as part of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Hardest Hit fund, and are aimed at helping low and moderate income homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages. California received a total of nearly $2 billion through the Hardest Hit fund.

All four programs are intended to help avoid foreclosure: three offer several forms of mortgage assistance, as well as a separate program that will provide transition assistance to borrowers who execute a short sale or deed in lieu transaction. All of the programs are designed specifically for low or moderate income homeowners who are either unemployed or are facing another financial hardship, have fallen behind on their mortgages and owe significantly more than the value of their homes.

Specifically, the Keep Your Home California programs provide:

  • Mortgage assistance of up to $3,000 per month for unemployed homeowners who are in imminent danger of defaulting on their home loans.
  • Funds to help homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments due to a temporary change in a household circumstance. The program will provide up to $15,000 per household to reinstate mortgages to prevent foreclosures.
  • Money to reduce the principal owed on a mortgage for a home where the low or moderate income homeowner is facing a serious financial hardship and owes significantly more than the home is worth. The program requires lenders to match any assistance provided by the Keep Your Home California program.

The programs will be limited to homeowners who meet a number of criteria, including owning and occupying the home as their primary residence, meeting income limits, and facing a financial hardship. Homeowners who consummated a “cash-out” refinance are not eligible for Keep Your Home California programs.

To apply for the assistance, a homeowner should contact the Keep Your Home California call center toll-free at 888.954.KEEP (5337) or their mortgage servicer – the company to which the borrower sends monthly mortgage payments. Each of the mortgage assistance programs requires the participation of the mortgage servicer.

As of February 9, the following servicers are participating in all four Keep Your Home California programs:

  • GMAC
  • Guild Mortgage
  • California Housing Finance Agency
  • California Department of Veterans Affairs

Other servicers, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, CitiMortgage and Wells Fargo are currently participating in some, but not all, programs at this time.

Full details regarding programs and servicer participation can be found at  http://www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org/.

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