$1 billion in mortgage relief funds are now available to California homeowners who have fallen behind on housing payments or property taxes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds do not have to be paid back and the program is free.
The California Mortgage Relief Program is funded by the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act’s Homeowners Assistance Fund. It was designed to provide assistance to qualified homeowners who have fallen behind on their housing payments or property tax payments due to pandemic-related financial hardships.
The program is provided to homeowners through the CalHFA Homeowner Relief Corporation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the California Mortgage Relief Program?
The California Mortgage Relief Program is providing financial assistance to get caught up on past-due mortgages or property taxes to help homeowners who have a mortgage, a reverse mortgage, or who are mortgage-free. Using $1 billion in federal funds, the grants help homeowners who have had a financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistance provided through this program is not a loan and does not need to be paid back.
Why is the program important?
The California Mortgage Relief Program offers financial assistance to eligible homeowners that does not have to be paid back. This means homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage or property tax payments due to pandemic-related financial hardships can get caught up. Homeowners who are approved for these grants should talk with a tax professional about any impact this may have on their income taxes.
Who is eligible?
Whether they have a mortgage, a reverse mortgage, or are mortgage-free, the program is open to all California homeowners who meet the eligibility requirements. Homeowners may be eligible if they:
- Missed at least two mortgage payments and are currently past due; or
- Owe for unpaid property taxes (whether paid directly to your county or as part of your mortgage payment); or
- Have a reverse mortgage and owe your servicer for past due property tax and/or insurance
All applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Household income is at or below the county income limit (150% of their county’s Area Median Income, based on federal limits set for this program);
- Own and live in a single family home, condo, permanently affixed manufactured home or property with up to four units.
- Experienced a pandemic-related financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020 – either a loss of income or increase in household expenses
Mortgage assistance requirements:
- Missed two or more mortgage payments before December 1, 2022, and are currently delinquent; and
- Past due amount must be $80,000 or less at the time of application
Property tax assistance requirements (if paid directly to your county tax collector):
- Missed at least one property tax payment before May 31, 2022
My application was denied. However, I believe I may now qualify based on recent program updates. Can I re-apply?
The California Mortgage Relief Program encourages applicants who were previously denied to re-apply if they believe they meet the updated eligibility criteria. Applicants can re-apply by submitting a new application at CaMortgageRelief.org.
Homeowners may only have one active application in the review process at a time.
I have already received a grant from the California Mortgage Relief Program. Would I be able to receive additional assistance if I become eligible again?
Households will now be allowed to apply for additional assistance, even if they previously received funding, with each household eligible to receive a maximum of $80,000 in total assistance. The household must meet all other qualifications for additional support at the time of the new application.
What is considered a financial hardship?
For the California Mortgage Relief Program, a financial hardship is either a reduced income or increased living expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of living expenses are medical expenses, more people living in the household, or costs for utility services.
What information does an applicant need to provide?
A sample list of documents to gather before completing the application includes:
- Mortgage statement
- Bank statements
- Utility bill
- Income documentation (i.e. paystubs, tax returns, or unemployment document)
Depending on their unique circumstances, some applicants will have to provide different kinds of information as well.
How much assistance is available to me?
For homeowners with a mortgage or reverse mortgage, funding covers the full past-due amount owed to their lender, up to a maximum of $80,000 per household. Homeowners who are delinquent by more than $80,000 at the time they submit their application would not be eligible for assistance.
For homeowners who pay their property taxes directly to their county, grants fund the past-due amount that is owed to their county tax collector, up to $20,000 per household.
The assistance provided through the California Mortgage Relief Program is not a loan and does not need to be paid back. Homeowners receiving these grants should talk with a tax professional about any impact this may have on their income taxes.
Households are allowed to apply for additional assistance, even if they previously received funding, with each household eligible to receive a maximum of $80,000 in total assistance. The household must meet all other requirements for additional support at the time of the new application. Applicants may only have one active application in the review process at a time.
Am I still eligible if I already received COVID-19-related government assistance?
The California Mortgage Relief Program is open to homeowners even if they have received government assistance from other COVID-19 programs, such as the CARES Act, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 or the American Rescue Plan act.
However, households where the mortgage holder(s) or anyone else living at the property has received or been approved to receive Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds for the property, either from the state or a local government, are not eligible for the Mortgage Relief Program.
How do I find out what my AMI (Area Median Income) is?
You can find out if you meet income requirements by using the AMI calculator found on the home page of the California Mortgage Relief Program website. Homeowners are eligible for assistance from the program if their household income is at or below the county income limit (150% of their county’s AMI, based on federal limits set for this program). The AMI varies by county and household size.
How are income limits for the program determined?
Income limits are determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to U.S. Treasury Guidance for the Homeowner Assistance Fund, a homeowner may be eligible for assistance if their household income is at or below 150% of their local county’s Area Median Income, or at or below 100% of the U.S. Median Income, whichever is greater.
If my application questionnaire result says that I am not eligible, can I still fill out an application?
If the application questionnaire says you don’t qualify for assistance, we recommend that you contact a HUD-certified housing counselor at 1-800-569-4287 to discuss other options available to you. However, if you feel you have entered information incorrectly or if your circumstances change, you may try the Eligibility tool again with the corrected information.
Where can I complete my application?
You can check to see if you are eligible to apply for the California Mortgage Relief Program by visiting CaMortgageRelief.org and clicking the “Apply Now” button. Homeowners who meet the pre-screening criteria may complete an application for funding. Application assistance is available through the program’s Contact Center at 1-888-840-2594.
Where can I get more in-depth assistance filling out my application?
Depending on the type of assistance you need, there are various options to get help.
For questions about your application or questions about the program, help is available through the program’s Contact Center at 1-888-840-2594 Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 A.M. and 6 P.M. PST.
To see if there is in-person assistance available near you, visit the Community Based Organizations page.
For help deciding if this program is the best way to get help for your housing situation, contact a HUD-Certified Housing Counselor.
Legal assistance, free services for homeowners including foreclosure prevention and assistance with an application for the California Mortgage Relief Program, is available through the organizations listed on the Legal Assistance page.
Is there a deadline to apply?
The Program will remain open until all funds have been awarded to California homeowners, with an end date projected by 2025. While there is no deadline to apply, funds are awarded on a first come, first served basis.
How long will it take to review my application?
Completed applications with all required documentation may take several weeks from the date of application submission until a qualified applicant receives the approved funding. The California Mortgage Relief Program is committed to helping homeowners as quickly as possible.
Once my application is approved, how long will it take to receive financial assistance?
Once an application is approved, the California Mortgage Relief Program will work closely with your loan servicer or county tax collector to process payments quickly. We are committed to helping homeowners as quickly as possible.
My application was denied. Is there an appeals process? Can I re-apply?
If your application for assistance was denied, you have up to 30 days after the denial to submit an appeal by filling out the questionnaire in the Application Intake Portal. The questionnaire will determine whether you may move forward with your appeal. When submitting your appeal, please include any documentation to support your appeal.
Once you submit your appeal, it will be reviewed, and you will be contacted if more information is needed or once a decision has been made regarding your appeal.
You may also reapply for the program by submitting a new application. You can submit a new application by visiting CaMortgageRelief.org and clicking Apply Now.
My application was denied because it was indicated that I am no longer behind on my mortgage payments. However, I believe that I am behind. Why was this determination made?
Eligible homeowners must be at least two payments behind on their mortgage two months prior to December 1, 2022, and currently past due. If an applicant’s home loan is current as a result of assistance offered by their loan company — including a loan modification, deferral or partial claim — homeowners may soon be eligible for assistance. The action of a loan being sold or transferred to another company does not affect eligibility. If, during that transaction, the new lender brings the loan current due to an agreed-upon loan modification or deferment, then the loan would not qualify because it is no longer past due.
To stay up to date on the latest updates to the program, which could impact your future eligibility, we encourage you to sign up for the eNewsletter in the Stay Informed section of the California Mortgage Relief Program website.
We encourage homeowners who do not qualify for this program but need help figuring out their options, including other assistance programs, to contact a HUD-certified housing counselor at 1-800-569-4287.
Can I apply again if my application was canceled for taking more than 30 days to complete it?
Yes, if your application was canceled, you can re-apply by visiting the California Mortgage Relief Program website and clicking the “Apply Here” button. Funds are held for 30 days once a homeowner begins their application or until the application is completed. After 30 days the funds are released back into the pool for new applicants.
Applicants may only have one active application in the review process at a time.
Is there a paper application I can fill out and mail in?
Applications must be completed online; however, housing counselors or partner community-based organizations may be available to help you complete and submit your application.
To check if in-person assistance is available near you, please visit the Community Based Organizations page.
Which languages is the application available in?
The application is available in six languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Tagalog.
The Contact Center is able to provide assistance over the phone in over 200 languages. To speak to a California Mortgage Relief Program representative call 1-888-840-2594 Monday through Friday between the hours of 8AM and 6PM PST.
If I don’t have a scanner, can I use my phone to take a picture of my Social Security Card and other documents and upload them to my application?
Yes, digital photos of documents are considered equivalent to scanned documents. Make sure that the photos are taken in good lighting and are readable.
If I cannot finish my application at one time, can I resume it later?
The application portal will store your information so you can return to where you left off. Homeowners have 30 days to complete their application and provide all required information. After the 30 days, the application will be canceled.
Once I finish my application, will I still be able to access it if I need to make changes?
Once you submit your application, it will be transferred for review, and you will no longer be able to make additional changes. However, a review specialist will contact you regarding your application, so you may discuss your changes with them. Applicants can also send messages directly to their reviewers in the application portal.