Michigan program offers relief to homeowners struggling with payments

The threat of foreclosure is stressful for homeowners, but a new state-wide program aims to take that worry away from many local families.

In fact, with the help of Michigan’s Step Forward Program, thousands of homeowners may soon breathe a sigh of relief.

Officials hope this program will be the answer for people facing foreclosure.

The program allows for interest-free loans designed to help get homeowners back on their feet, and there’s a joint local effort to make sure those who need it the most sign up for this help.

“When you can look a family in the eye, and tell them that you can save the home that their kids live in, that their kids grew up in, that’s a pretty powerful thing,” says Michigan State Senator, Curtis Hertel.

And that’s exactly what State Senator, Curtis Hertel says Michigan’s Step Forward program allows people to do.

Since 2010, officials say the program has helped 34,932 families providing $309.6 million in interest-free loans.

And today, about $40 million is still available for new loans to assist around 6,000 eligible households.

“Whether it’s an employment or a health issue, ya know what’s ever going on in their life, usually temporary, but we’ve got some problems in the economy still for lower income households and this helps them over that rough spot,” says Ingham County Treasurer, Eric Schertzing.

Shertzing has seen the impact the Step Forward program has had here in Mid-Michigan.

In Ingham County alone, 973 homeowners have already gotten a combined $8,717,711.64 to help them hold onto their homes.

And Schertzing is looking to grow that number.

“There’s a lot more people that can benefit from it,” says Shertzing.

The program provides interest free loans up to $30,000.

But there are several requirements to qualify.

For instance, you have to have less than $10,000 in bank accounts (not including retirement accounts) and have had an involuntary qualifying hardship that caused the delinquency, for example: job loss, medical event, death, divorce, one-time critical housing repair.

But the Director of Home-ownership for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Mary Townley says, answering just a few simple questions is worth it to see if you are eligible.

“Go to our website, let us try to help,” says Townley.

As an added bonus, not only is this loan interest-free, but if you stay in that same home and stay up to date on your mortgage for 5-years after getting the money, you don’t have to pay it back at all.

To be eligible, your debt must be with a participating Step Forward partner.

To determine your eligibility click here.

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