Step Forward Michigan

By Nancy Buschmohle, Treasurer and Guest Blogger

For those residents in Oakland County facing foreclosure for delinquent taxes, there is now help to pay them through the Step Forward Michigan Loan Rescue program.

This program, helping those facing foreclosure has now been expanded to include delinquent property taxes owed to the County.  The County Treasurer must agree to work with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), and Oakland County Treasurer, Andy Meisner, has agreed to be part of this program.  Beginning January 15th, $205 million dollars were made available to help homeowners struggling to pay back taxes.

Basically, this program is a “forgivable loan” at zero interest.  A lien will be placed against your property for the amount of the loan.  If you stay in your home for a year, 20% of the loan will be forgiven.  Each year thereafter, another 20% of the loan will be forgiven so that at the end of five years, if you are still in your home, the loan will be totally forgiven. (Please contact the County Treasurer’s Office for details.)

There are eligibility requirements that need to be met.  You must currently live in the home you own as your primary residence.  You must owe delinquent taxes, interest or fees.  Delinquent condominium association fees will also be considered.  You must face a hardship preventing you from paying taxes, such as unemployment, reduced income, medical disability or divorce. You cannot have more than 1.5 times the annual property tax amount as cash on hand.

Application can be made online at www.stepforwardmichigan.org or by calling 1-866-946-7432.  MSHDA approves or disapproves applications through its Michigan Homeowner Assistance Nonprofit Housing Corporation (MHA).  The process takes up to an hour to complete.  To give applicants the best possible chance of qualifying, the Oakland County Treasurer strongly encourages all applicants to apply with the assistance of a certified housing counselor from one of the partner agencies agreeing to work with the County Treasurer.  Some housing counselor agencies include Oakland County Community and Home Improvement, Lighthouse, OLSHA, JVS, Community Housing Network and the University of Detroit-Mercy Legal Aid Clinic.  The County Treasurer’s office has a complete listing of all the partner agencies and their contact information.

If you think you may qualify, I urge you to contact Deputy Treasurer Lauren Bloom at the County at 248-858-0624 to get connected with a certified housing counselor and get the application process started.  She will be happy to answer any questions you may have.  This is a first come/first served program.  Once the money runs out, the program will end.  The County has many more details regarding this opportunity and is willing to help out any way they can to help residents keep their homes.  Help might be just a phone call away.

Taxpayers with delinquent taxes from 2010 and prior must still schedule a Taxpayer Assistance Meeting with the County Treasurer’s Office to arrange a payment plan and prevent foreclosure.

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