By Alicia Doyle
Signal Staff Writer
As many people continue to struggle financially in the pandemic, programs in California are offering assistance to help homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments, as well as renters who are falling behind. Learn more about these programs and how they can help.
California Mortgage Relief Program
The California Mortgage Relief Program is a state program created to help qualified homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments because they were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program uses federal Homeowner Assistance Funds to provide a one-time grant of up to $80,000 per household to help qualifying homeowners get caught up on their payments.
The grants are directly tied to the past due amount the homeowner owes their lender and funds are directly sent to the homeowner’s lender or mortgage servicer. The assistance provided through this program is not a loan and does not need to be paid back.
Homeowners who want to tap into the California Mortgage Relief Program should do the following:
1. Check to see if they are eligible to apply for the California Mortgage Relief Program by visiting camortgage relief.org and clicking the “Apply Here” button. Homeowners who meet the pre-screening criteria may complete an application for funding.
2. If a homeowner has questions about the application, they can call (888) 840-2594 for help. Housing counselors can also provide assistance and help homeowners review any other available options. Homeowners can find a local HUD-certified housing counselor at (800) 569-4287.
3. Once an application is approved, funds will be sent directly to the mortgage servicer to catch the homeowner up on all past due payments.
Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
• 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.
• And, faced a pandemic-related financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020.
• In addition, applicants must meet one of the following criteria:
• Receiving public assistance.
• Severely housing burdened (costs for your mortgage, property taxes and other housing expenses are more than 40% of your income).
This is a new program and it is important for homeowners to understand some of the key criteria. For one, the program is open to all eligible Californians who are currently experiencing pandemic-related hardships and have fallen behind on their housing payments.
California COVID-19 Rent Relief
Eligible households with rent — both for past due and future payments — can be helped through the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program.
Landlords and renters can apply online at housing.ca.gov.
For unpaid rent, landlords who participate in the program can get reimbursed for an eligible renter’s unpaid rent; and eligible renters whose landlords choose not to participate in the program may apply on their own and receive assistance for unpaid rent.
Eligible renters can also receive financial assistance for unpaid utility payments, which will be compensated at 100% of cost and paid directly to the utility provider. Some restrictions apply.
Renters can apply if they have been impacted by COVID-19, are income eligible, have unpaid rent or utilities, or need assistance with future rent or utilities. Landlords can apply for the program if they have renters who are behind on their rent and need financial assistance to support this income loss as long as:
• The renter’s household is income eligible, which the state will calculate when they apply.
• All payments you receive must be used to satisfy the renter’s unpaid rent. Eligible time frame for financial
• Or, have no alternative mortgage workout options (loan modifications) through your mortgage servicer.
More information regarding eligibility can be found at camortgagerelief.org/who-is-eligible.
Homeowners who fell behind on their mortgage last year due to a pandemic-related hardship could be eligible to get caught up on payments and the funds do not have to be repaid. The program is funded through the federal government’s Homeowner Assistance Fund. While there is no deadline to apply, applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.
• The renters takes steps to verify that they meet eligibility requirements and sign the application. They will be notified once your application submitted and asked to submit their required information.
It’s important to note the paperwork required for both renters and landlords.
Renters need one of the following: 2020 tax return; 2020 W2 and 1099G if you were unemployed; current pay stubs; or proof of participation in a state or federal subsidy program, such as CalFresh or CalWORKS.
Renters applying for assistance with utility bills must provide invoices or statements for any unpaid utility, water, trash and internet bills after April 1, 2020.
Required paperwork from landlords includes the lease or rental agreement reflecting renter’s name, residence address and monthly rent due; a rent ledger or rent statement showing the balance of unpaid rent from April 1, 2020; and a W-8 or W-9 for tax purposes.
Those without all the paperwork required can still apply, because most of the information can be certified in the application with proof of identification.
For more information about the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program, call (833) 430-2122; or to schedule an appointment with an organization in your area, call (833) 687-0967.