Contribution by Tiena Johnson Hall | Special to California
State Grants Are Providing Mortgage Relief to Californians Post-COVID
The California Mortgage Relief Program helps families impacted by COVID-19 save their homes
For many African American and other Californians of color, housing instability and inequity did not begin with the COVID-19 pandemic. Discriminatory housing and lending policies have long prevented communities of color from exercising their right to stable housing. The gateway to homeownership – proven to be one of the most effective ways to build intergenerational wealth in America – has only drifted farther and farther out of reach for people of color in America and especially in California.
While the pandemic did not create these issues, it has compounded them, forcing more families into vulnerable positions and putting their homeownership at risk.
It is no surprise that Black and Latinx communities are disproportionately impacted by the societal challenges created by the pandemic especially to those who are familiar with our country’s history. The Little Hoover Commission found that over the course of the pandemic, Black and Latinx homeowners were more than two times as likely as White Americans to report being behind on their housing payments.
California is distributing $1 billion in federal assistance to support homeowners at risk of losing their homes due to lost work, increased
medical costs, and other hardships brought on or exacerbated by COVID-19 and its associated economic challenges.
Launched in December 2021, the California Mortgage Relief Program is making available grants of up to $80,000 to eligible homeowners from socially disadvantaged communities, including families of color, who have fallen behind on their housing payments.
Over the past six months, relief funds have been distributed to more than 2,600 households. Recent expansions to the program’s eligibility guidelines have opened the opportunity for even more homeowners to get caught up on missed housing payments. In July 2022, the program celebrated distributing $100 million in relief to California homeowners.
The California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) has made it a point to be embedded in our local communities and connecting with vulnerable homeowners by speaking in language that they can understand. As these families work to recover from the ongoing financial burdens of the pandemic, there should be no additional barriers for them to access these resources.
A home goes beyond four walls and a roof. It is security. It is peace of mind. For many families, buying a home represents the unraveling of a system entrenched in inequality and lays the foundation of opportunity for future generations.
This housing relief cannot undo a history of exclusionary practices, nor fix the problems the global pandemic created, but it can ensure that whatever progress these families have made toward intergenerational wealth is not erased due to circumstances beyond their control.
And that is the work we will continue to do for these families. For anyone suffering from inequality, we must always strive for better.
For Californians who lost wages, lost jobs, or faced the tragedy of a lost loved one during this terrible pandemic – and especially for those who have faced the additional challenges of historical housing discrimination – the California Mortgage Relief Program is here to alleviate some of the burden. Apply today at CaMortgageRelief.org.
About the Author
Tiena Johnson Hall, Executive Director, California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA)