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By Amanda M. Kim                              Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                         Facebook    Twitter         Blog              
February 12, 2018                      EPA Today Facebook page Follow epatoday on Twitter EPA Today Blog Icon


Courtesy of http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/


In 2010, when Californians were reeling from the collapse of the housing market, President Obama created the Hardest Hit Fund to prevent foreclosures in the eighteen states most impacted by the housing market downturn. California’s Housing Finance Agency received over $2.3 billion from this fund and has steadily administered financial support to low-to-moderate income homeowners over the last seven years. These programs, known collectively as Keep Your Home California, or Conserva Tu Casa in Spanish, have assisted more than 79,000 California households to date, 94% of whom have remained in their homes two years after signing up.

So far, in San Mateo County, 509 households have received $12.94 million in mortgage-related assistance. In the 94303 and 94205 ZIP codes, which include East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and part of Palo Alto, 60 homeowners have received $1.28 million in assistance.

Currently, Keep Your Home California has three programs to help eligible homeowners pay their mortgage and related expenses, and one program to help transition homeowners to a new housing situation.

1) The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program helps homeowners who have lost their jobs and are either currently receiving unemployment benefits or whose benefits expired less than 60 days prior to application. Assistance can last up to eighteen months and cannot exceed $54,000 total.

2) The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program helps homeowners catch up on their late mortgage payments, and may also include their property taxes, insurance and HOA fees if included in their monthly payment. Assistance cannot exceed $54,000 total.

3) The Principal Reduction Program helps homeowners who have experienced either an economic hardship or a severe reduction in their home's value. Assistance comes in the form of a lump sum of up to $100,000 to reduce the loan principal.

4) The Transition Assistance Program helps homeowners who need to move after a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. Assistance up to $5,000 can help people transition to a new housing situation.

Some homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure might be hesitant to contact Keep Your Home California because they had put their trust in the wrong person during the purchase or refinance of their home. However, according to Steve Gallagher, Keep Your Home California’s external affairs director, there is an easy way to tell if you are dealing with a scammer, “Our services are free and our certified counselors will guide you through every step. In contrast, scammers will charge a fee for their services and will leave you at even greater risk of foreclosure. If you are having trouble with your mortgage payments, we are here to help, absolutely free of charge.”

To qualify for these programs, the first-lien mortgage loan cannot be greater than $729,750 and the applicant must own and occupy the home, which can be either a house, a 1-4 unit home or a condominium. In San Mateo County, household income cannot exceed $162,561.

Like all good things, this program must come to an end. The official sunset date is December 31, 2020, but 90% of the program's $2.3 billion in funding has been committed, so interested homeowners should apply immediately. It can take 60 days or more to process the paperwork between the state and the loan servicer and, at this rate, the program might commit all of its funding by this summer. So, if you need mortgage assistance, apply soon.

Programs like Keep Your Home California have a positive multiplier effect on the local economy. When homeowners keep their homes, they are able to keep their jobs, provide an education for their children, care for aging or disabled members of the family, contribute to the local economy, continue to pay taxes and buy goods and services.

For more information or to apply, call Keep Your Home California at 888-954-KEEP (5337) between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm weekdays and between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm Saturdays to speak with a counselor in virtually any language, or visit their user-friendly website in English at www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org or in Spanish at  www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org.

You can speed up the application process by having the following items ready when you apply: current income, current monthly expenses and a copy of your mortgage statement.


Keep Your Home California’s benefit to San Mateo County and East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and part of Palo Alto (January 31, 2018)

Unemployment Mortgage Assistance


Average Assistance


San Mateo County




94025 and 94303




Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance

San Mateo County




94025 and 94303




Principal Reduction

San Mateo County




94025 and 94303




Transition Assistance

San Mateo County




94025 and 94303





To contact Amanda M.Kim, the author of this article, email her at amandamk@epatoday.org