Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that $7.6 billion has been allocated to the Hardest Hit Fund.

California has expanded the pool of borrowers who could qualify for three programs aimed at helping families at risk of losing their homes, by making those who tapped their home equity or who took out loans after Jan. 1, 2009, eligible for assistance.

The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) is administering nearly $2 billion in federal "Hardest Hit" funds, a $7.6 billion program targeted at states with high foreclosure rates or unemployment.

CalHFA is using the Hardest Hit Fund to provide four "Keep Your Home California" programs. More than 2,000 homeowners are in the process of receiving help since the programs launched in February, CalHFA said in announcing expanded eligibility requirements for three of those programs.

With the U.S. Treasury signing off on the changes, CalHFA said eligibility requirements are being expanded for:

  • The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMA), which provides a mortgage payment subsidy of up to $3,000 a month for six months for unemployed homeowners in imminent danger of foreclosure.
  • The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program (MRAP), which provides up to $15,000 per household for homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments due to a temporary change in household circumstance.
  • The Transition Assistance Program, which provides relocation assistance in conjunction with a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Borrowers who took out loans after Jan. 1, 2009, or who tapped into their home’s equity by refinancing or opening a home equity line of credit, were previously excluded from those programs.

Homeowners who were previously disqualified for one of these reasons are being contacted and offered an opportunity to reapply, CalHFA said. They are also being invited to contact the Keep Your Home California call center at (888) 954-5337.

A fourth "Keep Your Home California" initiative, the Principal Reduction Program (PRP), provides funding to reduce outstanding principal balances for qualifying borrowers with negative equity, often in conjunction with a loan modification.

To qualify for any of the four programs, borrowers must own and occupy the home as their primary residence, meet income limits, and face a documented financial hardship.

Loan servicers participating in all four programs are GMAC, Guild Mortgage, CalHFA and California Department of Veterans Affairs. Other servicers, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, CitiMortgage and Wells Fargo are participating in some, but not all of the programs.

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