Sept. 29 2017 11:56 AM
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County treasurers discuss financial options for citizens facing foreclosures.
Shruti Saripalli

About $40 million dollars are available for Michigan homeowners who are facing troubles with their mortgage payments or property taxes, said Mary Tomley, Director of the Homeownership Division of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

As part of a conference organized at the Ingham County Veterans Memorial Courthouse, treasurers of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties along with representatives from MSHDA said the federally funded Step Forward Michigan program can provide no-interest loans to homeowners.

Since the federal government allocated $760 million dollars in 2010, a total of 1,639 homeowners have benefitted from this program in just the three counties, according to the Michigan Homeowner Assistance Nonprofit Housing Corporation, which overseas this program in collaboration with MSHDA.

Unexpected hardships like a death in the family, divorce, large medical bills, layoffs, home repairs can make homeowners eligible for applying to this program, where they can get interest free loans up to $30,000, said Earl Poleski, MSHDA Executive Director.

“Even better, if you stay in your home for the next five years, the loan is forgiven and you don’t have to pay it back,” Poleski said.

“This program has helped Clinton County residents remain in their homes during times of hardship,” said Tina Ward, Clinton County Treasurer. “Loan payments are made directly to the county treasurer’s office, the mortgage lender or the condominium association.”

“If residents can’t pay back their debts, the threat of foreclosure becomes all too real, which affects property values throughout the county,” said Robert Robinson, Eaton County Treasurer.

He encouraged potential applicants to find out about the program by going to the website and answering a few questions that can determine their eligibility.

Urging homeowners facing foreclosure to use the program, Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing said he wants to get the “phone lines ringing.”

“Which can start a conversation about the program with homeowners about their individual situations,” Schertzing said. “We also have one-on-one counseling sessions, along with other resources to help them.”

State Senator for the 23rd district in Michigan, Curtis Hertel Jr. was also part of the news conference. Herecalled his days as the Ingham County register of deeds in the middle of the largest foreclosure crisis in Michigan’s history.

“I know the pain caused by a foreclosure and losing a home, so for me to promote this program to my constituents is incredibly important,” he said.

All three treasurers along with MSHDA and the senator mentioned having a vested interest to prevent every foreclosure by spreading the word about this program and utilizing the $40 million dollars before the deadline in 2020.

“There are folks who have difficulties, they kind of freeze up and do not know what to do in such situations, a simple phone call can solve all their problems through this great program,” reiterated Poleski. “All of us want to get the word out and help every eligible homeowner.”