State of California expands pandemic relief program for homeowners

Extends timeline, raises qualifying income level for help on mortgages, property taxes


California homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgages and property taxes during the pandemic may be eligible for more mortgage relief.

The state has expanded a program to help struggling homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments and property taxes during the coronavirus pandemic, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Homeowners who missed payments this year now are eligible for aid that previously was offered only to those who missed at least two payments before Dec. 27, 2021.

The funds also now can be used to help with past-due property taxes, even for those whose mortgage payments are current, or for those who own their homes outright.

And the state has upped the income limit to qualify — homeowners now are eligible for assistance if they make 150 percent or less of their county’s median income.

Under the new parameters, the California Mortgage Relief Program estimates about 13,000 Bay Area households are eligible for relief.

“So many Californians saw their household finances impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency and are continuing to grapple with the economic fallout,” Lourdes Castro Ramírez, secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, said during a news conference over Zoom.

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She said 10 percent of California homeowners aren’t confident – or are only slightly confident – that they’ll make next month’s mortgage payment, citing statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Homeowners who missed at least two mortgage payments before June 30, 2022 now may be eligible to have delinquent payments of up to $80,000 covered. But eligibility depends on a household’s income.

In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, a family of four would have to make $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’ve paid their mortgages or who own their homes outright but who have fallen behind on property taxes are now eligible for up to $20,000 in relief if they’ve missed at least one tax payment before May 31, 2022.

The $1 billion mortgage relief program, launched on Dec. 27, has doled out more than $68 million to more than 1,900 homeowners. The expanded program doesn’t include $1.7 billion given since last year to more than 145,000 Californians for rental assistance.

[San Jose Mercury News] – Dana Bartholomew

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