California mortgage and rent relief programs available

By Alicia Doyle

Signals Staff Writer

As many people continue to struggle financially during 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 you.

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 have been 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 eligible homeowners catch up on their payments.

Grants are directly tied to the amount the homeowner owes their lender in arrears, and the funds are sent directly to the homeowner’s lender or mortgage manager. Assistance provided under this program is not a loan and does not need to be repaid.

Homeowners wishing to take advantage of California’s mortgage relief program should do the following:

1. Check 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 screening criteria can complete a financing application.

2. If an owner has any questions about the app, they can call (888) 840-2594 for assistance. Housing counselors can also provide assistance and help landlords consider all 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 agent to catch up with the homeowner on any overdue payments.

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

• Household income equal to or less than 100% of their county area median income.

• Missed at least two mortgage payments before December 27, 2021.

• Own a permanently attached single-family home, condo or manufactured home.

• And, faced pandemic-related financial hardship after January 21, 2020.

• In addition, applicants must meet one of the following criteria:

• Receive public assistance.

• Highly encumbered housing (the cost of your mortgage, property taxes and other housing costs represent more than 40% of your income).

This is a new program and it is important for owners to understand some of the key criteria. For one, the program is open to all eligible Californians who are currently experiencing pandemic-related hardship 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 tenants can apply online at housing.ca.gov.

For unpaid rent, landlords who participate in the program can be reimbursed for an eligible tenant’s unpaid rent; and eligible tenants whose landlords choose not to participate in the program can self-apply and receive unpaid rent assistance.

Eligible tenants may also receive financial assistance for unpaid utility payments, which will be offset at 100% of the cost and paid directly to the utility provider. Some restrictions apply.

Tenants can apply if they have been impacted by COVID-19, have qualifying income, have unpaid rent or utilities, or need help with a future rent or utilities. Landlords can apply for the program if they have tenants who are behind on their rent and need financial assistance to support this loss of income as long as:

• The tenant’s household is eligible for income, which the state will calculate when applying.

• All payments you receive must be used to pay the tenant’s unpaid rent. Period eligible for

• Or, do not have alternative mortgage relief options (loan modifications) through your mortgage manager.

More information regarding eligibility can be found at camortgagerelief.org/who-is-eligible.

Homeowners who fell behind on their mortgage last year due to pandemic-related hardship could be eligible to catch up on payments and the funds don’t have to be repaid. The program is funded by the federal government’s Homeowners Relief Fund. Although there is no deadline to apply, candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

• The tenant takes steps to verify that they meet the eligibility criteria and signs the application. They will be notified once your application is submitted and asked to submit the required information.

It is important to note the documents required for tenants and landlords.

Renters need one of the following documents: 2020 tax return; 2020 W2 and 1099G if you were unemployed; current payslips; or proof of participation in a state or federal subsidy program, such as CalFresh or CalWORKS.

Tenants requesting assistance with utility bills must provide bills or statements for all outstanding utility, water, garbage and internet bills after April 1, 2020.

Documents required from landlords include the lease or tenancy agreement showing the tenant’s name, residential address, and monthly rent due; a rent register or rent statement showing the balance of unpaid rent since April 1, 2020; and a W-8 or W-9 for tax purposes.

Those who do not have all the required documents can still apply, as most information can be certified in the application with proof of identity.

For more information about the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program, call (833) 430-2122; or to make an appointment with an organization in your area, call (833) 687-0967.

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