Sunday, 14 August 2022

Attorney general highlights California Mortgage Relief Program, urges struggling homeowners to seek free financial assistance

California Attorney General Rob Bonta has issued an alert highlighting the California Mortgage Relief Program, a relief program that uses $1 billion in federal Homeowner Assistance Funds to provide financial assistance to low to moderate income homeowners who are behind on their housing payments due to the impact of COVID-19.

The program will cover past due mortgage payments or reverse mortgage arrearages in full as a one-time grant, which will be submitted as a direct payment to the homeowners’ lender or mortgage servicer.

The program is free, and the funds received by approved applicants do not need to be repaid. In an alert issued Wednesday, Attorney General Bonta urges struggling homeowners to check if they are eligible for the program and apply.

“What makes the California Mortgage Relief Program so unique, is that the financial assistance provided through this program is completely free and does not need to be paid back. This is an important opportunity for struggling homeowners to receive federal grants of up to $80,000 per household that will help them get caught up on their housing payments,” said Attorney General Bonta. “It is crucial that homeowners check to see if they qualify for this free financial assistance, and apply as soon as possible so that they can get the help that they need to keep their home.”

“The California Mortgage Relief Program gives qualified homeowners who were most impacted by the pandemic a chance to regain their footing financially," said Rebecca Franklin, president of CalHFA Homeowner Relief Corporation. "The program is open to homeowners, even if they have already received government COVID-19 assistance.”

Eligibility requirements

The program is open to all eligible Californians who have experienced pandemic-related hardships and have fallen behind on their housing payments.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following criteria:

• Have a household income at or below 100% of their county’s Area Median Income;
• Missed at least two mortgage payments prior to Dec. 27, 2021;
• Own a single-family home, condo or permanently affixed manufactured home;
• Faced a pandemic-related financial hardship after January 21, 2020; and

Meet one of the following:

• Receiving public assistance;
• Severely housing burdened (costs for your mortgage, property taxes and other housing expenses are more than 40% of your income); or
• Have no alternative mortgage workout options (loan modifications) through your mortgage servicer.
• You can find more information regarding eligibility at camortgagerelief.org/who-is-eligible.

How to apply

The California Mortgage Relief Program is now accepting applications through its online portal at CaMortgageRelief.org. The application is available in six languages.

While there is no strict application deadline, homeowners are encouraged to apply for funding as soon as possible.

The sooner you submit an application, the sooner it can be reviewed, and – if your application is approved – the sooner you will likely receive funds.

The California Mortgage Relief Program will remain open until all funds have been allocated, with an end date projected in 2025. The funds provided by this program will be available on a first come first serve basis.

Additional information

The California Mortgage Relief Program is a government-run program that is completely free to homeowners. Homeowners do not need to pay any fee to apply for available funding, and any funds received by approved applicants do not need to be repaid.

Homeowners who receive funds from this program should talk with a tax professional about any impact funds may have on their income taxes. Be suspicious of any third party that is offering to submit an application on your behalf, especially for a fee.

For Californians to be eligible for this relief, their mortgage servicer must be participating in the program.

In February, Attorney General Bonta sent a letter to key mortgage servicers urging the companies' immediate and full participation in the California Mortgage Relief Program. For a list of servicers participating in the program, go to camortgagerelief.org/mortgage-servicers/.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud related to the California Mortgage Relief Program, please report it to the Attorney General’s Office by submitting a complaint online at oag.ca.gov/report or by phone at 800-952-5225 (TTY (800) 735-2922).

You may also report identified or suspected fraud to the Treasury Office of the Inspector General’s Investigation Services at oig.treasury.gov/report-fraud-waste-and-abuse.

For free assistance with housing and foreclosure avoidance issues, you can call a housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

To find a HUD-approved housing counseling agency near you, access HUD's database for Foreclosure Avoidance Counseling or call 888-995-HOPETM (4673).

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