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Reaching Out in California

California is in the middle of the deadliest wildfires in the state’s modern history. On Monday, officials at Butte County said they discovered remains of 13 more people in the town of Paradise in northern California, bringing the death toll to 42.

Homes constitute a major part of more than the 7,600 structures that have been destroyed. The fire, in fact, has destroyed 6,453 homes in Paradise alone and forced over 250,000 residents to flee from their homes.

According to an analysis by CoreLogic, 48,390 homes with a total reconstruction cost value of approximately $18 billion are at high or extreme risk of wildfire damage from the Camp and Woolsey fires in Northern and Southern California.

The analysis indicated that not all the ZIP codes were within the burn perimeters on account of the unpredictable nature of the wildfires. Not all structures within a fire perimeter will suffer damage or be destroyed by the fire, the analysis noted. Analyzing the wildfire risk and reconstruction values, CoreLogic found that the number of homes at high and extreme risk stood at 31,394 in Camp Fires and 16, 996 in Woolsey Fires.

As part of FEMA’s federal aid program, assistance is being extended for affected individuals and households including:

  • Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters and may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.
  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional
  • Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.

In these times, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reminding those impacted by the wildfires of the options available for mortgage assistance. Homeowners impacted by the wildfires are eligible to stop making mortgage payments for up to 12 months, during which time they will not incur late fees or have delinquencies reported to credit bureaus.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have authorized servicers to suspend or reduce homeowner’s mortgage payments immediately for up to 90 days if they have been affected by a disaster. Payment forbearance of up to 12 months is available in many circumstances. Foreclosures and other legal proceedings are also to be suspended.

“Our thoughts are with the families and communities affected by these devastating California wildfires,” said Carlos Perez, SVP and Chief Credit Officer at Fannie Mae. “Fannie Mae and our lending and servicing partners are focused on ensuring mortgage assistance is available during this challenging time. It is important for those in the area to focus on their safety, first and foremost, and we encourage homeowners impacted by the fires to contact their mortgage servicer for assistance as soon as possible.”

“Once safely out of harm’s way, we strongly encourage homeowners whose homes or places of employment have been impacted by these dangerous fires to call their mortgage servicer—the company to which borrowers send their monthly mortgage payments—to learn about available relief options. We stand ready to ensure that mortgage relief is made available,” said Yvette Gilmore, Freddie Mac’s VP of Single-Family Servicer Performance Management.

About Author: Donna Joseph

Donna Joseph is a Dallas-based writer who covers technology, HR best practices, and a mix of lifestyle topics. She is a seasoned PR professional with an extensive background in content creation and corporate communications. Joseph holds a B.A. in Sociology and M.A. in Mass Communication, both from the University of Bangalore, India. She is currently working on two books, both dealing with women-centric issues prevalent in oppressive as well as progressive societies. She can be reached at [email protected]

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