More California homeowners now eligible for COVID mortgage relief

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Struggling California homeowners are now eligible for mortgage relief. The state on Tuesday expanded a COVID-19 program designed to help those who have defaulted on their payments during the pandemic.

Homeowners who missed payments this year are now eligible for assistance, which was previously only available to those who missed at least two payments before December 27, 2021. Now the money can also be used to help with past due property taxes, even for people who have ongoing mortgage payments or for those who own their homes outright. And the state has raised the income limit for qualification — homeowners are now eligible for assistance if they earn 150% or less of their county’s median income.

Under the new standards, the California Mortgage Relief Program estimates that about 13,000 Bay Area families are eligible for relief.

“Many Californians see their household finances being impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency and are grappling with the economic fallout,” Lourdes Castro Ramirez, secretary of the California Business, Consumer and Housing Agency, said during a news conference . zoom. In fact, about 10% of California homeowners are not, or only slightly, confident they will make their mortgage payments next month, she said, citing data from the US Census Bureau.

Homeowners who missed at least two mortgage payments before June 30, 2022 may be eligible for up to $80,000 in outstanding payments. However, eligibility depends on the income of a household. In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, a family of four must earn $214,200 or less per year to qualify. The cutoff is $279,600 in San Mateo County and San Francisco and $252,750 in Santa Clara County.

Homeowners who missed mortgage payments or who own their homes outright but missed property taxes are now eligible for up to $20,000 in relief if they made at least one tax payment before May 31, 2022. Under the earlier expansion, only homeowners who were in arrears on their mortgage or had a reverse mortgage were eligible for property tax assistance.

The news comes as inflation and record-breaking gas prices have forced people in the Bay Area and across the country to buy essentials and pay their bills.

There is no application deadline for the program, but the state urges homeowners to receive their applications as soon as possible, either by visiting CaMortgageRelief.org or by calling 888-840-2594.

The $1 billion mortgage relief program, launched Dec. 27, has donated more than $68 million to more than 1,900 homeowners. Funded by the Federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, it is part of a broader effort by the state to prevent Californians from losing their homes due to the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state temporarily halted evictions and offered to pay rent on behalf of tenants who were struggling to pay rent. Gov. Gavin Newsom said last month that the rent relief program had paid out more than $5 billion, but activists are complaining about delays. The state stopped accepting applications as of April 1, but earlier this month at least 16,000 applications from the Bay Area were waiting to be processed. At its current pace, the state will not receive all pending applications until statewide eviction protection ends on June 30, according to an analysis by the National Equity Atlas.

Ramirez said he is pleased with the progress made to date under the Rental Assistance Program and the Mortgage Relief Program.

“With today’s announcement,” she said, “we are making a bold statement about California’s ability to respond to needs on the ground.”

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