By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media
(CBM) – Earlier this month, the California Housing Financing Agency (CalHFA) and the Sacramento branch of NeighborWorks held a press conference at the State Capitol to announce the expansion of California’s mortgage relief program.
“Over the past year, the California Mortgage Relief program has been helping Californians that are most vulnerable to overcome the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tiena Johnson Hall, Executive Director of the California Housing Finance Agency.
One of the major new changes to eligibility, CalHFA officials say, applies to those who own residences with up to four units. Those homeowners can now apply for assistance. Relief through the program has also extended to those with partial-claim second mortgages or loan deferrals from the beginning of 2020.
Additionally, for homeowners who have missed at least two mortgage payments or one property payment before March 1st of this year, the delinquency date for payments has been reset.
Previous beneficiaries of the program are now eligible for additional funds that could add up to $80,000 in total aid. Officials say the program is meant for those who have had trouble keeping up with housing payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding for the California Mortgage relief program comes from the Federal Government’s American Rescue Plan Act’s Homeowners Assistance Fund implemented in 2021, which allocated $1 billion for eligible homeowners across the country.
According to Hall, the program has distributed federal grants and funds to over 10,000 California homeowners.
Not only is applying to the program free, she says, homeowners do not have to worry about paying back the relief funds.
The program is provided to homeowners through the CalHFA Homeowner Relief Corporation.
During the press conference held in the first week of Black History Month, Hall made a point to mention that those who tend to struggle with homeownership in California and the nation at large are Black.
“Black communities have been shut out of homeownership by a variety of factors including discriminatory housing practices which equates to less generational wealth,” said Hall.
Homeownership is an incredibly important tool in building generational wealth, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Volma Volcy, Founder and Executive Director of the Ring of Democracy, said it is important to secure the prosperity of neighborhoods where residents are at risk for foreclosure.
“When a family is displaced, a whole community is destroyed,” said Volcy.
Volcy also said that the California Mortgage Relief Program has been successful so far in providing aid for those in fear of losing their homes due to pandemic-related financial hardships.
Visit the California Mortgage Relief website to assess your eligibility and apply for the program.