by Katie Burns, J.D., Attorney, Housing Counselor, and HUD Certified Reverse Mortgage Counselor
The Step Forward Michigan program has helped thousands of homeowners avoid mortgage, reverse mortgage, and property tax foreclosure. It was created in 2010, after Michigan received $498 million of the Hardest Hit Loan Fund established by the US Department of Treasury. Michigan homeowners with a qualifying hardship receive a mortgage lien and forgivable loan up to $30,000. No payments are required, provided that the homeowner remains in the home for the next five years.
At the Housing Rights Center of Michigan (HRCMI), we have been successful in helping hundreds of seniors apply for these loans. To date, 108 of our clients were approved for a total of over $1.1 million to save their homes from foreclosure. Overall, the Step Forward program has assisted 30,000 Michigan households and awarded over $260 million, but current funds are extremely limited.
Fortunately on February 19, 2016, the US Department of Treasury announced the release of an additional $2 billion in funding for hardest hit states. Mark McArdle, the Treasury’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, commented that “[w]hile the housing market has strengthened in recent years, there are still many homeowners and neighborhoods experiencing the negative effects of the financial crisis. The additional HHF funds authorized by Congress will allow states to continue their efforts to stabilize local communities and help struggling families avoid foreclosure.”
Currently, Step Forward is closed to new applications, and existing submitted applications are being processed on a “first come, first served” basis. However, since Michigan is slated to receive another $74.5 million for foreclosure prevention, new applicants should be able to submit applications sometime between April and June 2016.