SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The nation’s biggest effort to help homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgage because of the pandemic is underway in California.

The effort is called the California Mortgage Relief Program, and those who are in need can begin applying for federal funds on Wednesday.

Owning a home is a key part of the American dream, but missed work due to lingering illness, reduced work hours, and outright job loss tied to the COVID-19 pandemic the last two years have made it hard for people to achieve that dream.

According to housing officials, hundreds of thousands of homeowners across California are facing housing instability.

“Twelve percent of California homeowners are facing foreclosure and 6% percent are behind on mortgage payments due to the pandemic,” said Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez.

The California Mortgage Relief Program will cover past-due home bills in full as a one-time grant of up to $80,000 per household.

The payments will be made directly to the servicer of a given homeowner’s mortgage and no repayment will be required.

The architect of it all, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, fought for $10 billion to be included in the American Rescue Plan President Biden pushed just for this purpose.

Californians will benefit from the biggest state pool in the country, $1 billion.

“I was so very worried that while we were doing forbearance and people were not be able to pay and not forced to pay their mortgages for maybe several months and the devil would come due,” Waters said.

Focused on low-to-moderate income homeowners, applicants must have missed at least two payments and their household income must be at or below 100% of their county’s area median income.

“No homeowner, no homeowner should go homeless due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation Commissioner Clothilde Hewlett.

As many as 40,000 Californians may be eligible and state officials told FOX40 that the tough lessons learned during California’s distribution of rent relief funds have been taken into consideration so the effort runs smoothly.

The California Mortgage Relief Program website has a “frequently asked questions” section for homeowners who want additional information about the program.