California's Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program provides temporary mortgage payment assistance to unemployed homeowners. Read on to get an overview of the program, learn how much assistance is available, and find out if you are eligible. (To learn about the other programs in Keep Your Home California, visit our California Foreclosure Law Center.)
Keep Your Home California
In 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury created the Hardest Hit Fund to provide targeted aid to homeowners in those states most affected by the housing market crash. As part of this program, $7.6 billion in aid was allocated to the 18 states, along with Washington, D.C., that experienced the most extreme home price declines and high unemployment rates as a result of the economic crisis. (Learn more about the Hardest Hit Fund.)
Through the Hardest Hit Fund, California was awarded nearly $2 billion in funds to help eligible homeowners avoid foreclosures by way of four programs, which are collectively called “Keep Your Home California.” Each program provides a different type of financial assistance to low and moderate-income homeowners. The four programs are:
- The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, which provides mortgage payment assistance to unemployed homeowners.
- The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, which helps homeowners catch up on missed payments.
- The Principal Reduction Program, which provides funds to underwater homeowners to pay down the principal balance of a mortgage loan.
- The Transition Assistance Program, which assists homeowners who are undergoing a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure transition to new housing. (See our Short Sales and Deeds in Lieu of Foreclosure area for more information on these topics.)
The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program
The goal of the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMA) is to help unemployed homeowners avoid foreclosure while they seek new employment. To do this, the program provides mortgage payment assistance in an amount equal to the lesser of:
- $3,000 per month, or
- 100% of the PITI (principal, interest, tax, insurance) and any escrowed homeowner’s association dues or assessments.
Homeowners can receive benefits for up to nine months.
How the Program Works
The assistance is provided in the form of a non-recourse, non-interest bearing subordinate loan secured by a junior lien that is recorded against the property. After three years, the subordinate lien will be released. You only need to repay the loan if you sell the home for a profit or refinance (and take cash out) during that time.
Borrower Eligibility Criteria for UMA
To be eligible for UMA benefits, you must qualify as a low or moderate-income household based on all of the below criteria.
- Your household income is 120% or less of the California State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Area Median Income for a family of four in the county where you live. (The income limits are higher than you might guess. For example, the limit is $123,600 in San Francisco county and $91,100 in San Diego county. To find out the income limits in your county, go to http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/income-limits.) Also, a homeowner is presumed to satisfy income limits if he or she has a loan financed in whole or in part by bonds that are tax-exempt under IRC section 143.
- You recently encountered a financial hardship due to underemployment or unemployment.
- You have completed and signed a Hardship Affidavit/3rd Party Authorization documenting the reason for your hardship.
- Your total monthly first-lien mortgage payment PITI and escrowed association fees (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance, as applicable) exceeds 31% percent of your gross monthly household income, including unemployment benefits.
- You are currently receiving unemployment benefits. (Learn more about unemployment benefits at www.edd.ca.gov.)
- You are late on your mortgage loan payments or are at risk of imminent default (and can prove it).
- You agree to provide all necessary documentation to satisfy program guidelines.
Home Eligibility Criteria for UMA
Additionally, your existing mortgage and the property securing that mortgage must meet the below criteria.
- The current unpaid principal balance for the first-lien mortgage loan is $729,750 or less.
- The home is not abandoned, vacant, or condemned.
- The property is a single-family or one-to-four unit home that is owner-occupied.
- The property is in California.
- The property is your primary residence.
Mobile homes are eligible if they are permanently affixed to the real property that is secured by the first lien. (Learn more about what happens if you are struggling to pay your mobile home loan.)
You are not eligible to request assistance through UMA if one of the below conditions applies to you.
- A Notice of Default (NOD) was recorded on the subject property as of the date of you request assistance under the program or under the HAMP UP forbearance program.
- You filed bankruptcy and the bankruptcy is active. (If you previously filed bankruptcy and it was dismissed or you received a discharge, then you are eligible to apply for the program.)
- The loan is in foreclosure as evidenced by a recorded NOD. (Learn more about the California foreclosure process.)
- You voluntarily resigned from your job.
- You are in an active HAMP trial modification (unless the trial is cancelled).
- You become re-employed at any time during the UMA benefit period.
- You are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.
- You are actively being reviewed for Transition Assistance Program benefits.
For More Information
Assistance will be given to approved homeowners on a first-come basis until the money runs out; so don’t wait to long to apply. (As of the end of November 2013, California has distributed only 36% of its designated funds.)
Go to www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org and click on “Unemployment Mortgage Assistance” or call 888-954-KEEP (5337) for more information.