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

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.

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.

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