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California program to stop foreclosure expanded

These are stressful times for many California residents facing financial hardship. Often through no fault of their own, many people have found themselves either underwater on their mortgage or simply unable to continue making their payments. Indeed, there doesn't seem to be a lot of good news recently, but that may change somewhat, since a California program meant to stop foreclosures will be expanded to help even more people.

The program, known as Keep Your Home California, is funded through a $2 billion federal loan designed to assist areas that have been the hardest hit in the current foreclosure crisis. Just recently, the program announced it will be broadening its eligibility guidelines. That means that homeowners who raised cash through refinancing, who own a second home and who have been unemployed longer than six months are now eligible for help.

But thankfully the good news does not end there. In the past, unemployment mortgage assistance was capped at $3,000 a month for six months. Now that has been expanded to nine months. Moreover, the amount of money the state can make available to homeowners facing financial hardship has been increased. The maximum amount is now $20,000 to help them catch up on mortgage payments--up from $15,000.

No doubt, many California residents will greet the news warmly. However, it comes as too many people are having trouble meeting their financial obligations. Even when debt relief is granted through a government program, it is important that individuals who take advantage of the program know exactly how it affects them. Each financial situation is different, and foreclosure and bankruptcy law often seems complicated to most people. Californians may do well to seek help applying for aid under the state program in order to stop foreclosure. Filing for personal bankruptcy is another option that people choose in order to restructure their finances. Doing so can provide an opportunity for those facing heavy debt obligations to make a fresh financial start.

Source: Press-Enterprise, "REAL ESTATE: State foreclosure prevention program expands help," Leslie Berkman, Nov. 9, 2011

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