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California’s Coronavirus Mortgage Relief Program, Explained

Updated: January 29, 2021

A major concern of the coronavirus is how to help individuals and families keep their homes amid large-scale job loss. The governor of the United States’ most populous state, California’s Gavin Newsom, released an announcement in late March that provided new protocols that aim to protect homeowners with an accompanying mortgage.

Whether or not the new rules apply may depend on your lender. Read on for more information.

Contents

California Mortgage Relief Facts

Governor Newsom made an announcement1 on March 25th, 2020, which outlined a relief package for Californian homeowners that may be experiencing financial loss and difficulty paying their mortgage due to COVID-19. The announcement outlined a partnership with Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers with the purpose to protect homeowners.

Mortgage Relief Key Points

  • 90-day grace period for mortgage, which includes:
    • A process that will be offered to consumers by financial institutions for requesting forbearances for reasons due to COVID-19
  • Additional opportunities to extend forbearance beyond the 90 days with proof of prolonged hardship
  • No credit impacts for those requesting assistance for COVID-19 related reasons
  • Reimbursement or waiver of fees, including mortgage-related late fees, early withdrawal fees (such as from a CD), and some other fees from customers who have requested aid for at least 90 days.

What This Means

Since the full economic impacts of the coronavirus are still unknown, the listed periods may extend in the future. A grace period or forbearance is not the same thing as mortgage forgiveness — it’s simply a delay on payment.

Financial institutions are taking different approaches to the 90-day grace period, so your options may depend on:

  • Your financial situation
  • What your lender is willing to offer

There are five main options to explore with your lender for the end of the 90-day forbearance:

  • Addition of missed payments to the end of the loan (extending the term of the loan)
  • Loan modification
  • Repayment plan where past-due amounts are added to future payments
  • Complete repayment of past-due funds
  • Forbearance extension beyond the 90 days

If your institution requires full repayment at the end of the 90-day period, this means that the entirety of your missed mortgage payments will be due

It’s important that anyone requesting relief from these participating financial institutions keep detailed documentation of their hardship to provide upon application. A list of all participating institutions can be found here.

Links to Coronavirus Mortgage Relief Info for Major Lending Institutions

What If I’ve Tried to Apply For Relief and My Lender Isn’t Cooperative?

If you believe you’re eligible for mortgage relief and your participating lender does not provide assistance, you can file a complaint with California’s Department of Business Oversight here. You can also contact the office by phone or email:

If your lender is not on the list of participating institutions, it’s recommended to communicate with them to try to obtain assistance.

Moratorium on Foreclosure Sales/Evictions

Another piece of the relief announcement is a 60-day moratorium on foreclosure sales or evictions. The list of participating institutions have agreed to not initiate any new foreclosure sales or evictions for homeowners whose jobs and livelihoods have been impacted by COVID-19 for at least 60 days2.

While these measures went into effect on March 25th, your individual lender may be willing to work with you to extend assistance if you’re suffering financial hardship.

California Unemployment Assistance

If you have lost your job due to the coronavirus, California has temporarily increased the maximum unemployment allowances as well as extended benefits to non-traditional employees such as freelancers. Instead of the maximum allowance of $450 per week, an extra $600 has been temporarily approved, bringing the new maximum weekly allowance to $1,050. It has been reported3 that unemployment call centers are currently inundated, but if you have lost your job, you will likely be able to complete the entire unemployment application process online.

State-By-State Eviction Suspensions

If you’re a renter, mortgage relief would not apply. Whether you live in California or another state, access this article to find out about eviction moratoriums for renters (and rules for landlords) in your area.

Video: What to Know About California’s Mortgage Relief Program

Sources

  1. https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/03/25/governor-gavin-newsom-announces-major-financial-relief-package-90-day-mortgage-payment-relief-during-covid-19-crisis/
  2. https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/03/25/governor-gavin-newsom-announces-major-financial-relief-package-90-day-mortgage-payment-relief-during-covid-19-crisis/
  3. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/01/unemployed-workers-benefits-coronavirus-159192

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