(Photo by IERC)

Millions of California homeowners face foreclosure, eviction, and never being able to afford to buy their own home. With people feeling like there is nowhere to turn for help, the Inland Empire Resource Center (IERC) is pushing to educate people about housing, seek housing counseling, and use California’s FREE resources for help in keeping one’s home.  

On March 17, the IERC held a virtual briefing discussing the California housing crisis. The meeting titled, “Mask Are Coming Off, But the CA Housing Crisis Still Remains Unstable”, discussed the importance of housing education and how vital it is for renters as well as future and already-existing homeowners.  

IERC is a nonprofit organization committed to rebuilding the American Dream. They stand on a belief that housing education and housing counseling programs prove to be extremely beneficial in helping address the challenges of post-foreclosure and eviction stress disorder.  

They want to educate people that FREE housing counseling, from real people, is available across the state.  

(Photo from IERC)

“As of January, there were 721,000 families who owe more than $3.3 billion in back rent. People usually think this a problem solely for renters, but it’s more about mom-and-pop landlords who actually make up a large portion of homeowners in California,” explained Eric Johnson, an information officer with the Marketing and Communications Division of the California Housing Finance Agency.  

Johnson continued, “These are owners of duplexes and quadplexes who rent out their properties in California and rely on rent to upkeep their homes for renters as well as make up their mortgage payments.”  

In their National Mortgage Settling Counseling Program, the state of California has about $73.5 million to help people get free counseling at many HUD-approved counseling agencies across the state.  

According to the Attorney General’s Office, by using these resources, California homeowners are 60% more likely to avoid foreclosure, secure loan modifications, and even lower monthly payments with the partnership of housing counseling that is tailored for each individual client.  

With this, Johnson said that people should be very cautious of counselors who try to charge you for their housing counseling services.  

“That’s bad. There’s a lot of fraud going on with these services. We want to get the message out that you want to talk to a HUD-approved counselor. Those are people that can help you out, and their help is FREE. If someone asks for money about your housing situation, run as fast as you can.”  

(Photo by IERC)

Linda Jackson, executive director of the IREC, also participated in the briefing to discuss rental relief not just for tenants, but also landlords.  

“We hold your hand through the process to go through this. It can be overwhelming to send people, especially for those who don’t speak English, to submit applications online, but we even provide pop-up events where we ensure you submit a complete package of appropriate documentation.”  

For homeowners who feel like they’ve done it all to get relief on their back rent, they can also receive grants through the California Mortgage Relief program. “You can get help up to $80,000 for help on your mortgage for COVID-related problems,” Jackson said. “You won’t have to pay it back. It’s given to you, which is very different from 12 years ago, during times of the recession.”  

This type of funding has never been given to California residences. Daily, bills have been coming out to provide residents with necessary resources to not only be able to relieve back rent, but also provide affordable housing to those who want to buy their first home.  

Even with explanation about these immaculate services from executives, IERC still made sure to provide first-hand accounts from California residents about their experiences with these housing counselors and programs.  

“I originally ran into a lot of problems uploading the application,” said Toni Stovall, HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency customer. “A counselor took the time to help me and walk me through the renter’s assistance application. Any documents I needed they made sure to stay on top of me because there’s a time frame.”  

Stovall went on to say, “A lot of people go through this issue, but don’t know how to get the help. It is a process, but they ensure that everything will be fine. With the program have patience. IERC will take care of you and not let you drop the ball. I’ve never really seen people so invested in helping you get funds.” 

March 31, is the last day to apply for emergency rental assistance in the state of California, so IERC encourages people to apply as fast as they can.  

Over 23,000 people have been provided hope through this program. For more information or assistance, you can visit https://www.calhfa.ca.gov/community/nms/resources.htm to access a resource of 76 different counseling agencies that have employed more than 217 housing counselors. It’s VERY important to talk to a real person with legal expertise in your preferred language about these matters, and not over an instant messaging screen.  

You can also visit IERC’s website (www.iercsb.org) or via phone at (909) 887-8700 for more information on their nonprofit and about counselors who want to help you.