Keep Your Home California! 

by Gail Smyth, Janurary 2012

Did you know that President Obama created the Hardest Hit Fund to provide aid to those states where the housing downturn was most severe? Californians may receive benefits through Keep Your Home California. If you are having difficulties making your mortgage payment then you should visit the Keep Your Home California website at to see if you might be eligible for assistance. If you do not have a computer, visit your local library and use one there. If you don’t like using computers at all then call the Keep Your Home California toll free number at 888-954-KEEP (5337). You can meet with a counselor in any of several locations in northern California. These locations are listed on the website. 

Although the program targets low and moderate income families, the annual income limits to qualify for the program are higher than you might expect. Examples include Amador County at $80,150, Calaveras County at $82,550, El Dorado County at $90,100, and Placer County at $90,100. You will find a list of the limits in each county on the website. 

There are four components to Keep Your Home California: the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, the Principal Reduction Program, and the Transition Assistance Program. 

1. The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program provides mortgage payment assistance to eligible homeowners who have experienced an involuntary job loss and are receiving California EDD unemployment benefits. Benefit assistance through UMA can be up to $3,000 per month and can last up to nine months. The maximum assistance per household is $27,000. 

2. The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program provides assistance to eligible homeowners who, because of a financial hardship, have fallen behind on their payments and need help to reinstate their past due first mortgage loan. Benefit assistance through MRAP can be a one-time payment of up to $20,000 to cover principal, interest, taxes and insurance, as well as any homeowner's association dues. 

3. The Principal Reduction Program provides assistance to eligible homeowners who have experienced an economic hardship coupled with a severe decline in the home's value. Homeowners who qualify for the Principal Reduction Program could be eligible for up to $50,000 in assistance from Keep Your Home California. The Principal Reduction Program requires a dollar-for-dollar match from the participating servicer, so the total amount of reduced principal could be up to $100,000. 

 4. The Transition Assistance Program provides one-time funds to help eligible homeowners relocate into a new housing situation after executing a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure program. The Transition Assistance Program can provide up to $5,000 in transition assistance per household. 

If you own and occupy your home as your primary residence, if it’s in California, if you owe less that $729,750, and if you obtained your current mortgage before January 1, 2009 you may qualify for any of the programs. If you obtained your mortgage after January 1, 2009 you will not be eligible for the Principal Reduction Program but you may qualify for the other three programs. 

The site includes many helpful links. A Consumer Alert warns that it is Illegal in California for any person, including lawyers, real estate brokers, real estate persons, and others to collect any advance fee or retainer to conduct loan modifications work or services or obtain any other forms of mortgage loan forbearance.