In a recent Spotlight article of Nov. 7, I let you know about Michigan State University Extension’s role in aiding homeowners eligible for property tax assistance through the Step Forward Michigan Program. In that article, I quoted Ted Wahby, the treasurer of Macomb County, who praised the “productive partnership” between MSU Extension and the Macomb County Treasurer’s Office. He went on to say that the team effort resulted in more than $1.1 million dollars in back taxes paid and more than 175 families no longer at risk of losing their homes.
At the end of November, the Treasurer’s Office updated us that currently 204 Macomb County residents have been assisted with $1,203,512.42 in repaid delinquent property taxes.
On Dec. 4, Macomb County executive Mark Hackel delivered his third State of the County address to an invitation-only crowd of 1,200 county employees, residents, partners and policy makers at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township. During the address, Mr. Hackel recognized the impact that the partnership between MSU Extension and the County Treasurer’s Office had in Macomb County’s transformation by keeping residents in their homes with the Step Forward Michigan Program.
“We were one of the few departments individually acknowledged! I was proud of Jean (Lakin) and her team!” said Debbie Safian, Macomb County administration support staff member and one of the invited guests.
Additionally, Steve Gold, director of the Macomb County Department of Health and Community Services, acknowledged the role that MSU Extension housing counselors played in this effort.
“MSU Extension staff provides direct educational services to literally tens of thousands of Macomb County residents annually. We think of education as paying off ‘in the long run,’ but the Step Forward Michigan Program is different: the benefits to our residents (not losing their homes) and the benefits to the county (not losing a million dollars in property taxes) have been immediate and dramatic. MSUE and the Treasurer’s Office can be justly proud of how much good has grown from their partnership,” he said.
Greening Michigan Extension, Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) educator Jean Lakin leads the team of Sarah Carter, Natalie Ciampichini, Helena Fleming, Rob Weber and AmeriCorps member Alicia McMiller.
Jean remarked in an email to the team, “Needless to say all of the hard work that each and every one of you do each day for the Macomb County residents facing foreclosure IS recognized and appreciated. Not only by the residents that you work so tirelessly for but also by those on campus and in the county who support us and understand that we are making a difference here in Macomb County. It is an honor to work with each one of you every day and we all THANK YOU for your dedication to the Step Forward Michigan project.”
I agree with Jean and having our staff and their program singled out in the State of the County address by the Macomb County executive is pretty special. Thanks for everyone’s contributions to this great partnership!