~ New Headquarters Building
~ Keep Your Home California Update
~ Down Payment Assistance for Newly Constructed Homes
~ A New Start for Tabitha and Mateo
~ Rent Scam Warning
Message from Steve Spears, Chief Deputy Director
CalHFA has, I believe, made it through some pretty challenging times. From a calendar sense, the days are finally getting longer and those long winter nights are slowly getting shorter. From a business sense, we have returned with good success to single-family lending after more than a year and a half on the sidelines. I'm very, very happy about this.
Not only have we gotten back to helping people purchase their first home, we're also on the road to helping people keep their homes with the kick-off of all of the Keep Your Home California programs. Keep Your Home California is actively disbursing almost $2 billion in funding from the U.S. Treasury to prevent foreclosures by helping those who are unemployed, behind in the mortgage payments and under water on the mortgages.
In this edition of Housing Matters, we also profile one of the many families who have been helped by our Multifamily division’s affordable rental housing development financing programs, one of which is the Mental Health Services Act Housing Program. The profile's subject, Tabitha, is a single-mother and only one of thousands who have found a stable place to live after hardships have left her and her young son homeless.
I am confident that CalHFA's lending will continue growing as we add partners and programs, and spread the word about what we do and who we help. There is still a huge amount of work to be done, and a bright future is far from assured. Working together, however, we can do our best to make sure the dark times stay in the past.
All the best,
Chief Deputy Director
P.S. This will be my last message from the Director's Corner, as Governor Brown recently appointed Claudia Cappio as Executive Director of CalHFA. I'll be returning to my previous role as Chief Deputy Director, and am looking forward to working with Claudia to keep CalHFA moving ahead.
New Headquarters BuildingThe majority of CalHFA's workforce was consolidated into a new office building late last year. The new digs at 500 Capitol Mall are less than a mile from the previous spaces while offering similar or better amenities. Most importantly in these times of belt-tightening, CalHFA's price per square foot has decreased significantly. "
Our new address is
500 Capitol Mall, Suite 1400
Sacramento, CA 95814
Packages should be addressed to the same, in Suite 400.
This should conclude the recent migrations of CalHFA employees, which started earlier last year with the creation of a Loan Servicing and Portfolio Management Center in West Sacramento. CalHFA also maintains an office in Culver City, devoted mainly to Multifamily Asset Management and lending in Southern California.
Keep Your Home California Expands Eligibility to Help More California Homeowners
Keep Your Home California was implemented statewide in early February to help fight the ongoing foreclosure crisis in California. The programs are federally funded as part of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Hardest Hit Fund, and are aimed at helping low and moderate income homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages amid the worst real estate crisis in decades.
Newly expanded eligibility criteria for several of the Keep Your Home California programs will make them available to a larger number of families at risk of losing their home.
Under the U.S. Treasury-approved program changes, California homeowners who, through refinancing or home equity lines of credit accessed the equity in their homes, could now be eligible to receive assistance for the following programs: Unemployment Mortgage Assistance, Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance and Transition Assistance.
These same programs have also been expanded to include mortgages that were originated after January 1, 2009. (Homeowners who were previously disqualified for one of these reasons are being contacted and offered an opportunity to reapply. Those homeowners are also welcome to contact the Keep Your Home California call center at 888.954.5337.)
“California homeowners have welcomed the assistance provided by Keep Your Home California,” said Steven Spears, Chief Deputy Director of CalHFA. “In the two short months since the launch of these programs, we have collected information that has helped us identify areas of improvement to make the programs more effective, particularly given the continued high level of unemployment in California.“
All of the programs are designed specifically for low or moderate income homeowners who are either unemployed or are facing another financial hardship, have fallen behind on their mortgages and owe significantly more than the value of their homes.
Specifically, the Keep Your Home California programs provide:
- Mortgage assistance of up to $3,000 per month for unemployed homeowners who are in imminent danger of defaulting on their home loans.
- Funds to help homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments due to a temporary change in a household circumstance. The program will provide up to $15,000 per household to reinstate mortgages to prevent foreclosures.
- Money to reduce the principal owed on a mortgage for a home where the homeowner is facing a serious financial hardship and owes significantly more than the home is worth. The program requires lenders to match any assistance provided by the Keep Your Home California program.
- Transition assistance to help borrowers relocate to new housing situation after executing a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure program.
The programs are limited to homeowners who meet a number of criteria, including owning and occupying the home as their primary residence, meeting income limits and facing a financial hardship.
To apply for the assistance, a homeowner can contact the Keep Your Home California call center toll free at 888.954.5337.
Each mortgage assistance program requires the participation of the mortgage servicer (the company to which the homeowner makes their monthly payment). To find out which servicers are currently participating, visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org.
“The problems of unemployment and the unprecedented disruption in our real estate markets have impacted so many families,” Mr. Spears said. “These programs are designed to move homeowners who have been told ‘no’ into the ‘yes’ category and qualify them for a mortgage they can afford over the long term.”
For more information, please visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org.
Down Payment Assistance for Newly Constructed Homes
When a builder in California constructs a new home, one of the fees he must pay to the government is a School Facility Fee. This fee serves a valuable purpose: helping to fund the construction of new schools that will serve the home being built. The fee is charged to the builder, and the builder will usually pass this fee on to the purchaser of the new home, folded into the home price.
Depending on the size of the home and the area of the state, the fee can be in the thousands of dollars. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way for homebuyers to be reimbursed for this indirect increase in the price of their home?
CalHFA has just the ticket. The School Facility Fee Down Payment Assistance Program (SFF) offers help to buyers of newly constructed homes to offset the increase in price caused by the School Facility Fee. Unlike other programs, this is a grant—if the buyer stays in the home for at least three years, the amount of the grant (again, it can be in the thousands of dollars) is forgiven and doesn't have to be repaid.
Funds for the program come from the voter-approved Proposition 46, which used millions of dollars in bond funds to help homebuyers across the state with more than a dozen programs. The program can be combined with CalHFA or non-CalHFA mortgages; you may not have to be first-time homebuyer. Even better, the money can be used for anything related to the purchase of a new home: down payment, closing costs…even upgrades and additions.
Homebuyers interested in the rebate should fill out the SFF application during the first loan application process. Builders and loan officers interested in finding out more about how the SFF program can be a helpful sales tool should check out the CalHFA web site.
A New Start for Tabitha and Mateo
Tabitha is 25-year-old who grew up in Sebastopol, a rural town in Northern California. She moved to Marin, one of the most expensive counties in the state, when she was 13. She graduated from high school and life was ticking along. She met her son's father at the pet store where they both worked, and soon she was pregnant with her first child.
And this is where things started to go south. Tabitha was laid off from her job when she was 8 ½ months pregnant. After Mateo was born, they and Mateo's father were living in a two-bedroom place with a couple roommates. This stress led to a break-up, and Tabitha and Mateo moved out of the two-bedroom and started sleeping on friend's couches; eventually, they ended up at a shelter run by Homeward Bound, an organization devoted to helping homeless families.
At this point, Tabitha was lonely, depressed and angry. There wasn't money for food, there wasn't money for diapers, and there wasn't money for any of the needs of a single mom. Homeward Bound, however, was a partner with The Fireside Apartments, a low-income residence serving seniors, families, individuals with mental illness and those seeking refuge from homelessness. The Fireside holds a lottery for potential residents…and Tabitha's name was chosen.
The Fireside Apartments is a new construction development, consisting of 50 units of affordable housing, developed by Eden Housing. The development features the restoration of the historic Fireside Inn building, a Marin County landmark.
The project received a permanent loan of $475,000 and a capitalized operating subsidy in the amount of $250,000 from the Mental Health Services Act Housing Program, administered by CalHFA. Additional financing partners are the County of Marin and the Department of Housing and Community Development, among others. The Fireside is a shining example of Transit Oriented Development in its clustering of housing units within a quarter-mile walk of a new, safe pedestrian route to the adjoining Manzanita Park and Ride, Marin County’s second largest transit node.
“The Fireside is just the kind of project the community needs and a proto-type for others to follow---renovating a historic building that is situated close to public transportation utilizing green building practices," says Assemblymember Jared Huffman. "I hope to see more affordable housing projects like this that meet new state goals for smart-growth development.”
The development includes a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, all low income. Thirty-two units serve older adults and the remaining 18 units serve families, with 10 family apartments and eight units for older adults reserved for households requiring supportive housing services, including formerly homeless households.
"It has never been easy, but it has become an increasingly complicated and complex process to get to the end result of a happy family in an affordable home. Fortunately, we have a committed and compassionate partner in the California Housing Finance Agency. Throughout our history, CalHFA has worked with Eden to provide financing for terrific projects throughout the state,” said Linda Mandolini, Executive Director of Eden Housing.
It's now a whole different ballgame. Tabitha says, "I'm able to provide for my son on my own. I'm enrolled in college to get my Associates Degree. [Having a home at Fireside has] helped me to get back on my feet, helped me see the progress that I've made through the past couple of months."
The Fireside provides a host of services for their residents. They partner with Adopt-a-Family of Marin, which helps link community donations to needy families. Tabitha has regular counseling sessions to help her make sense of the turmoil, and parenting lessons to make sure Mateo gets the love and care he needs, both in a warm, supportive environment. Tabitha says, "It's nice to know there are other people who went through the same thing who we can rely on."
Her long term goals are to finish out her business degree (Partner organizations also provide day care for Mateo, who's now 20 months old) and eventually work for an organization like Adopt-a-Family. "Those organizations were there to help me when I needed it the most, and if it wasn't for the people, I don't feel like I'd be in a spot where I'm able to succeed. My goal is to give back the way they gave to us."
Rent Scam Warning
Occasionally, CalHFA will publish articles from other sources that are relevant to its audience. Here's an extremely timely piece, from our friends at the Department of Real Estate.
As a result of the mortgage meltdown in California, and with many thousands of foreclosures, there are abandoned properties in communities throughout the state. Moreover, the continued economic downturn has left numerous people displaced and in need of rental housing. The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) has become aware of unscrupulous activity by some persons who prey on desperate consumers who are looking for some place to rent. These cons are able to convince potential renters to pay them money, which may include a first and last month's rent and a security deposit, as well as follow up rental payments, for a house that is not owned by the supposed landlord.
Sometimes it does not take much to fool potential tenants into believing that they are dealing with the real owner of the house. Here are some ploys these scammers use:
- They gain access to vacant houses by unlawfully breaking into the houses, changing the locks, securing the properties and giving the illusion of ownership.
- They go to great lengths to obtain false documents. For example, they sometimes access the county assessor's web site and obtain a document called a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report. The crooks download and complete this document, and then offer the document as evidence that they own the property to be rented.
- They send out bogus letters, emails, and other documents which appear legitimate, instructing existing tenants to cease rental payments to the property owner and redirecting the tenants to pay their rent to these new frauds. They may also prepare false leases or rental agreements to make everything look official.
- They advertise houses or apartments they do not own for lease or rent on Craigslist or other sites for classified ads of rental properties.
Do your homework to avoid becoming victimized. Ask anyone offering a house for rent to provide you with proof that they own the house, and to show you their government issued picture ID. There is also the risk that their identifications and documents can be false, so check them carefully.
If you think that you are dealing with an owner's/ landlord's representative, check with the DRE to see if that representative or agent is licensed. A real estate license is required, with some narrow exceptions, for a person to offer a house for rent as an agent of the owner. Check out the license records through the DRE web site (www.dre.ca.gov) and make sure you are working with legitimate licensees.
If you are an existing tenant, check with the County Recorder's office to verify the property's owner of record. If the house has been foreclosed upon, you should contact the new owner and verify with the current owner the person to whom you should be forwarding your rental payments.
If you are considering renting or leasing, consider the following before entering into a rental agreement and turning over your money:
- Check with the County Recorder to determine if the house being offered for rent has a Notice of Default recorded. If the property has been foreclosed, call the lender, servicer or owner to obtain the name of the company or individual who is their representative.
- Do as much research as you are able to avoid financial loss and distress to you and your family.
- Be aware of those with fancy titles or claims of being connected to a legitimate person, business or the government.
If you feel you have dealt with a scammer in the area of a housing rental or have been defrauded in connection with rental of a house, please contact the Department of Real Estate at the following telephone numbers:
- For Spanish-speaking consumers, call 1-877-DRE-4321;
- Consumers in Sacramento, (916) 227-0864;
- Consumers in Fresno, (559) 445-5009;
- Consumers in Los Angeles, (213) 576-6942;
- Consumers in Oakland, (510) 622-2552; or
- Consumers in San Diego, (619) 525-4192
Finally, please note that the DRE website has a large number of consumer alerts that you may want to consult and review. The alerts include warnings on loan modification fraud, short sale fraud, forensic loan fraud, and a discussion of tenants' rights in connection with foreclosed properties.