California Relocation Assistance for Struggling Homeowners

California's Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provides a one-time payment to help eligible homeowners relocate into new housing after completing a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure.

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California's Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provides a one-time payment to help eligible homeowners relocate into new housing after completing a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure. Read on to get an overview of the program, learn how much assistance is available, and find out if you are eligible.

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. (Get an Overview of Keep Your Home California.) Each program provides a different type of financial assistance to low and moderate-income homeowners. The four programs are:

  • The Principal Reduction Program, which provides funds to underwater homeowners to pay down the principal balance of a first 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.)

(To learn about the other programs in Keep Your Home California, visit our California Foreclosure Law Center.)

The Transition Assistance Program

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provides eligible homeowners up to $5,000 to pay for things like rent, moving expenses, and security deposits.

How the Program Works

TAP assistance is available on a one-time only basis and does not have to be repaid. You can receive TAP benefits even if you have received benefits under the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, and/or Principal Reduction Program (subject to the overall program maximum limit of $100,000).

Borrower Eligibility Criteria for TAP

To be eligible for TAP, 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.
  • You have completed and signed a Hardship Affidavit/3rd Party Authorization documenting the reason for your hardship.
  • You are late on your mortgage loan payments or are at risk of imminent default and can prove it. Loans in foreclosure are eligible. (Learn more about the California foreclosure process.)
  • You agree to provide all necessary documentation to satisfy program guidelines.

Home Eligibility Criteria for TAP

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. (You must occupy and maintain the property until the home is sold or returned to the lender as negotiated.)
  • 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.)

TAP Exclusions

You are not eligible for assistance through TAP if one of the below conditions applies to you.

  • 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 short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure closed prior to your request for TAP assistance.

Servicer Participation

Servicer participation in the program is voluntary. (A mortgage servicer is the company that collects monthly mortgage payments from borrowers on behalf of the owner of the loan, as well as tracks account balances, manages the escrow account, handles loss mitigation applications, and pursues foreclosure in the case of defaulted loans.)

To find out if your servicer is participating in TAP, go to http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers.

How to Apply

To apply for TAP assistance, you can:

  • call Keep Your Home California at 888-954-KEEP (5337)
  • contact your mortgage servicer directly, or
  • visit one of the HUD-approved counseling agencies participating in Keep Your Home California. (To learn more about housing counseling, see our article Free Counseling in California for Struggling Homeowners.)

For More Information

Go to www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org or www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org (for a Spanish-language version of the website) for more information.

by: , Contributing Editor

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