BARSTOW Homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments may be able to find some assistance through a new program offered by the California Housing Finance Agency.

The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance program will provide up to $3,000 a month for up to six months for qualified homeowners. Homeowners must qualify for unemployment benefits and have an income limit of $78,000 or less in San Bernardino County. The loan cannot already be in foreclosure, but homeowners with delinquent mortgage payments or those at risk of foreclosure are eligible.

The money for the program is coming from the Hardest Hit Funds from the Department of Treasury, said Diane Richardson, president of California HFA Mortgage Assistance Corporation. She said the program could help up to 60,000 families throughout the state and there were already a few hundred people who had their approvals pending.

"The program is intended to give people a little extra time when they're looking for a job so they don't have to worry about losing their home," said Richardson.

The program is one of four that will be offered by California HFA, including programs that will help people who have fallen behind on their mortgages, people who have negative equity in their homes who want to reduce their principal balances, and those who can no longer afford their home and want to relocate.

Residents living in both Barstow and San Bernardino fared better in December with both unemployment and new foreclosure filings.

Unemployment dropped .4 percent from the month before in Barstow as unemployment rates also dropped in San Bernardino County, according to data released by the Employment Development Department on Friday. The number of new foreclosures were also down in Barstow and in San Bernardino County, according to data released last week by ForeclosureRadar. The number of new default filings fell in Barstow from 32 homes in November to 27 homes in December.

For further requirements for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program and to apply, visit or call (888) 954-5337.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or

Unemployment December 2010
Barstow: 16.9 percent
San Bernardino County: 13.7 percent
California: 12.3 percent
United States: 9.1 percent
Data from Employment Development Department

New foreclosure filings December 2010
Barstow: Down 15.62 percent
San Bernardino County: Down 34.43 percent
California: Down 16.7 percent
Data from ForeclosureRadar