Up to $50,000 available for owners facing foreclosure

New $2 billion program offers a variety of help

A federally funded program that began early this year is providing up to $50,000 in financial assistance to California residents who have fallen on hard times and are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

In San Diego County, the nonprofits Community HousingWorks, Neighborhood House Association and NovaDebt are assisting with applications for the Keep Your Home California program.

Ali Tarzik, a counseling supervisor at Community HousingWorks, said word is spreading about the program. "In the past three weeks we've been seeing five to six families a week," he said.

"There's a lot of optimism behind this program," he said.

The California Housing Finance Agency is overseeing the $2 billion program. Funds came from the U.S. Treasury Department. Other states with high rates of unemployment and high loss of home equity values also received federal funds.

The Keep Your Home California program offers four types of assistance for low- to moderate-income homeowners.

Three are designed to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. The fourth is aid to people who are in the process of losing their homes.

• The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, launched in January, provides a monthly benefit of up to $3,000 for six months for homeowners who have been laid off and are currently receiving unemployment benefits. Loans in foreclosure are not eligible.

• The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, launched in February, provides up to $15,000 to homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments in order to prevent foreclosure. Loans in foreclosure are eligible.

• The Principal Reduction Program, launched in February, encourages lenders to reduce principal balances over a three-year period by providing dollar-to-dollar matching funds, up to $50,000. The program is designed to help homeowners with negative equity and can be used with a loan modification.

• The Transition Assistance Program, launched in February, provides up to $5,000 to homeowners who are in the process of losing their homes in a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. Recipients are required to stay and maintain the property until it is sold or returned to the lender.

leonel.sanchez@sandiegored.com

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