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Charles-and-Kathleen-Clary

San Francisco couple can enjoy their dream home and give back to their community with help from Keep Your Home California and BALANCE

Homeowners Charles and Kathleen C. are always glad to share their love story, not only for each other, but also for their church, their family and friends, their neighborhood, – and their dream home.

Their house has scenic views of the San Francisco Bay, downtown, Mt. Diablo, and nautical activity on the Bay, along with views of the East Bay Shoreline and Hills. Their home is within walking distance of Candlestick State Park.

“It’s a perfect, medium-size house for us, with wonderful neighbors,” says Kathleen, as the couple takes turns talking.

“Our house is truly blessed,” Charles says. “We invited our church family, relatives and friends, along with several ministers to bless our home and enjoy a house warming after moving in several years ago in 1998.  It was a great celebration, with all the folks we dearly love!”

“It certainly was a beautiful day,” chimes in Kathleen, who met her husband-to-be during a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at the Civic Center in San Francisco in 1989. They were married three years later, and bought the house, which they had to bid for, in 1997.

San Francisco has become their much-beloved adopted city, and their true home.

Charles grew up in Arkansas and enlisted in the Navy, and was later stationed on Treasure Island in November, 1959.  Kathleen was raised in Portland, Ore., and happily moved to the City by the Bay, after they were married.

“I fell in love with San Francisco,” says Charles, a retired X-Ray Technician. “I found out there was no snow in San Francisco, and have been here ever since.”

They were welcomed by a lot of warmth from church members, family, friends, and neighbors.

“Our neighbors are from all walks of life,” says Kathleen, a reading literacy tutor at a nearby elementary school, and an AmeriCorps National Service Volunteer.

Their house is definitely a home, filled with many memories.

“I’m thankful for all of the blessings of the home,” Kathleen says. “It’s a place of tranquility, a place to rest and center your thoughts, a place to relax and enjoy. It often reminds me of a mountain retreat, surrounded by greenery and quietude. Our hobbies include gardening and walking.”

Of course, that’s when the couple gets the chance to relax. They are active in their community, from their church to their neighborhood association, and have hosted numerous community meetings in passed years.

“We’ve been actively involved with the beautification of our community,” says Charles, noting they have planted flowers and trees in the area.

Since 1998, the BayHill Neighborhood Association Members and District 10 Supervisors have been instrumental with the improvement and beautification of the neighborhood, which includes a median with palm trees, native California Plants, and other greenery, along with a viewing platform. The median will eventually extend from their neighborhood to the former site of Candlestick Park, where the San Francisco 49ers and Giants played their home games for decades. Presently, the site is being reconstructed for commercial use, which will include housing, a hotel, a theater, and retail stores.

But the couple who invested so much in their neighborhood – and their overall community – were recently faced with the financial challenge of a hard-to-pay mortgage, Without some kind of financial relief, they were looking at the possibility of being forced to sell their home.

So, Charles and Kathleen, both retirees, applied for a loan modification through their mortgage servicer with no luck. Their servicer turned them down for modification three times. They refused to give up, though, in their desperate search for help. Finally, they were advised to connect with HOPE Now, which referred them to BALANCE, formerly Consumer Credit Counseling Services of San Francisco.

“We quickly gathered all of the information needed,” Kathleen says of the documents and paperwork required to apply for Keep Your Home California Assistance. “Fortunately, Our KYHC Processor was constantly in communication with us, regarding status reports, and additional documentation needs. They were extremely helpful.”

The BALANCE housing counselor assisted the homeowners with their initial application for Keep Your Home California’s Principal Reduction Program, which offers as much as $100,000 in principal reduction and often lowers the monthly payment. BALANCE has specially trained housing counselors and a dedicated phone line for homeowners applying for Keep Your Home California, says Stephanie Price, housing programs manager for BALANCE.

“Our counselors can walk people through the program, even over the phone,” says Price, who adds that housing counselors can help homeowners with Keep Your Home California and other government-assistance programs, including some designed just for San Francisco residents. “We have quite a bit of experience.”

BALANCE also has a lot of success. Just ask Charles and Kathleen.

“We were so elated, I was simply overjoyed,” Kathleen says of when they were notified via email that they were approved for the Program in January, 2016.  “I raced into the living room to tell my husband. We just hugged and danced around the room, with tears of joy in our eyes.”

Keep Your Home California’s Principal Reduction Program saved the couple about $300 per month in mortgage payments. The recasting of their mortgage payment, allowed them to stay in their home.

“It’s like a weight taken off our shoulders!” Charles says. “Although we still have some financial restructuring to complete, Keep Your Home California has been a tremendous help, and BALANCE continues to help us with budget re-structure.”

“We appreciate Keep Your Home California’s assistance with the Principal Reduction of our mortgage,” Kathleen says. “It has given us renewed hope.”

Hearing from people like you makes our job worth it.

While we certainly don’t expect anyone to send “Thank You” cards, we love receiving updates from people who have been able to remain in their homes.

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ElaineBarlow

Homeowner battled cancer and lost her job, but kept her longtime home thanks to Keep Your Home California

Elaine B’s decades-old house is definitely her home.

Both her late-father and uncle were longtime custom homebuilders that built her house on a half-acre lot in rural San Diego County. Her younger brother designed the 36-year-old house.

“It’s been a great house, especially when my daughters were growing up,” says Elaine, who grew up and has lived in the area much of her life. “It’s nice being in the country.”

Her four daughters were active in FFA and 4H during junior high and high school, often raising dairy heifers, pigs and sheep on the property.

And the house has been the site of many family get-togethers over the years, especially the annual Christmas breakfast.

Today, three of her four daughters live nearby, and the other is a 30-minute drive away. So, Elaine gets to spend a lot of time with her 11 grandchildren, who enjoy playing in their grandmother’s big backyard.

“There are a lot of memories,” says Elaine, while watching her soon-to-be 2-year-old grandson. “I don’t want to leave my house. I’ve been living in the house for so many years.”

But when the longtime banking employee was laid off in summer 2013, losing her home was a real possibility. To make matters worse, she was diagnosed with breast cancer right before she lost her position—and her health insurance.

She asked her mortgage servicer to recast her mortgage in the hopes of saving money every month, but with no luck.

Then, Elaine came across Keep Your Home California while she was checking her email. The online ad for the free mortgage-assistance program piqued her curiosity. So, she checked into the program, called the counseling center and applied over the phone.

“I already had all of the paperwork that I had sent to my lender,” she says. “The counselor called and she talked me all the way through. She said I was like the poster-child for the program.”

She must have been: Elaine was approved for the Principal Reduction Program within 30 days (faster than most Principal Reduction Program applications). The program offers as much as $100,000 in assistance and often lowers the monthly mortgage payment.

“I thought this was going to be a hoax; there are a lot of scams out there,” says Elaine, whose principal has been reduced by $81,500, which lowered her monthly mortgage by almost $400.

The cut in monthly payments has definitely helped since Elaine was forced into an earlier-than-planned retirement and she receives significantly less income, mostly from Social Security.

“It’s a legitimate program,” she says of Keep Your Home California. “It’s really made a big difference.”

The state-managed mortgage assistance program has allowed Elaine to focus on her health, a major priority as she continues to recover from six surgeries connected to her breast cancer.

“I didn’t think any of this would happen,” says Elaine, who remains upbeat despite her battle with breast cancer and related health issues along with her job loss. “But I’m doing very well. Everything has basically turned around.”

Chris-Armes

When graphic artist and songwriter Christopher A. was laid off in June 2015, he was singing the blues.

But after a conversation with his mortgage servicer, Guild Mortgage Company, he learned that Keep Your Home California could help him stay in tune with his finances – and his monthly mortgage payment.

“I didn’t even know there was a program in place” to help homeowners with their mortgage, says Christopher, who owns a condo in Southern California.

Christopher applied for the free mortgage-assistance program a few weeks after he was laid off, and was approved several weeks later for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.

The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program provides out-of-work homeowners eligible for jobless benefits as much as $3,000 per month for up to 18 months – or $54,000.

Christopher “just about did a back flip” when he received a phone call notifying him that he was approved for Keep Your Home California.

“I could keep my home,” said Christopher, who bought his home in 2006, right before the housing market tanked. Keep Your Home California has “really reduced my stress.”

The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program allows unemployed homeowners to focus on their job search and not worry about their mortgage payments. So far, almost $600 million – or about half of the funds issued by Keep Your Home California – are from the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.

For many homeowners, their house is filled with memories of their children growing, family get-togethers or special holidays. For Christopher, his home is his “creative space,” where he can work on his music and songwriting without interruption and regardless of the hour.

“Otherwise, my life would be really, really depressing,” says Christopher, who uses a second room for his musical work. “Without it, I would be renting a space.”

And renting a space, especially one away from his home, would be a challenge for his musical passion.

“It’s been a godsend for me,” he says of Keep Your Home California. “I’m so thankful that a program like this exists.”

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Free reverse mortgage program helps seniors save their homes

‘The weight it took off … you just don’t know. We were going to lose our home.’

Joanne H. had a dream home and a fast-growing business in Central California.

Then, the Great Recession hit.

The hard-hit economy caused about 2.3 million Californians to lose their jobs and more than 800,000 to lose their homes to foreclosure – and hundreds of thousands of homeowners were forced into short sales.

And Joanne’s business, like so many others in the state, was struggling to survive.

She and her husband decided to apply for a reverse mortgage from Bank of America in 2008, which provided some much-needed cash for their restaurant.

“We thought everything would be fine,” she says.

But, eventually, the slow-to-recover economy forced the couple to close their business two years later and created a serious financial hardship.

They got behind on bills, including their reverse mortgage-related payments such as property taxes, and faced foreclosure on their 10-year-old home. It was then that Linda Miller, a fast-acting housing counselor with ClearPoint Credit Counseling called with information about a new reverse mortgage assistance program from Keep Your Home California.

The Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program helps low and moderate income senior homeowners avoid foreclosure on their reverse mortgages. Homeowners 62 years or older who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure due to delinquent property expenses associated with their Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured reverse mortgages could qualify for as much as $25,000 in assistance.

The program reinstates past-due property-related expenses such as taxes and homeowner’s insurance, and provides up to 12 months of additional assistance to ensure homeowners get back on their feet.

“I heard from this nice lady about Keep Your Home California,” Joanne says. “I answered all of her questions, and she said, ‘I think you qualify.’ I was beyond speechless.”

Joanne quickly completed the necessary documents for the mortgage-assistance program. A few weeks later, she was one of the first homeowners in the state approved for the new Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program and about $10,000 in back taxes were paid.

“It saved our lives,” she says of the program. “The weight it took off … you just don’t know. We were going to lose our home.”
It’s an all-too-frequent story for Linda Mitchell, who is a reverse mortgage default counselor with the non-profit housing counseling agency ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions. She helped Joanne apply for the free mortgage assistance available through Keep Your Home California.

“We get quite a few calls, and most of them work out very well,” says Linda, who assists about four homeowners a day for the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program. “Now, there has to be a financial hardship in order to qualify and there needs to be money left over in the homeowners’ budget to afford the home going forward.”

The reverse mortgage assistance coupled with the financial counseling helps homeowners establish long-term financial success. The program has eased the financial nightmare for Joanne and her husband.

“Now, I’ll be able to save,” says Joanne, who adds the couple is getting back on their financial feet. “There are still a lot of things, but everything is in order. The greatest gift we’ve ever received was to be able to keep our home.”

Our programs are designed to help you keep your home if you've suffered a financial hardship.

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Is your home in California?

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Do you own and occupy your home as your primary residence?

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Is the amount you owe on your first mortgage loan equal or less than $729,750?

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Is your County household income equal to or less than ?

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Have you experienced a financial hardship (such as a loss of income, significant medical expenses, divorce, severe negative equity, etc.) that is making it difficult for you to keep your home?

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Are you in an active bankruptcy?

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Great, you may be eligible for all or some of our programs!

Just answer a few more questions to find out which of our programs is best for you.

Which programs are best for you?

Have you received unemployment benefits from the California Employment Development Department (EDD) within the past 30 days?

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Are you two or more payments past due on your first mortgage loan?

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Do you owe more on your first mortgage than your home's current value?

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Is your payment unaffordable even though you have emerged from your temporary hardship?

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Are you currently participating in a trial payment plan for a modification with your mortgage servicer?

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Are you working with your mortgage loan servicer on a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure or a Short Sale?

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Based on your responses you do not qualify for a Keep Your Home California program, but we still want to help! Find out about the other options that are available to you by clicking the link below.

Don’t worry, other programs are available

Don't worry, other programs are available.

Although you do not qualify for a Keep Your Home California program, your mortgage Servicer or housing counselor from a HUD-approved agency may have other options that are available to you. These options include:

1) Federal Mortgage Relief

  • Load Modification
  • Refinance
  • Short sale assistance
  • Deed in lieu help

More Information »

2) Your Mortgage Servicer

  • Forbearance
  • Repayment plan
  • Short sale
  • Cash for keys

Contact your service provider for more information

Need more help?

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You may be eligible for the following Keep Your Home California Programs:

Call us at (888) 954-5337

  • Enter your email to receive more information on the programs you qualify for.