Tag Archives: foreclosure

Financial and homeownership team thanks state Sen. Booher

One of the things that we have been talking about over the past few months is the importance of developing our strategic communications to work on relationship-building. Strong relationships with clientele, stakeholders and communities can help ensure that our audiences know what we’re doing for them and help us make a difference in our communities. Sometimes, the most important strategy is just to say thank you, as evidenced by a recent meeting between the Michigan State University Extension Financial and Homeownership Education work team and state Sen. Darwin Booher.

senator booher fhe

In 2012, Booher was instrumental in passing legislation that provided resources to struggling homeowners. One part of the bill included funding to help MSU Extension provide a larger net of resources to individuals and families across the state. This funding has given more than 11,500 Michigan residents and their families access to education or counseling from the Financial and Homeownership Education work team.Senator Infographic

When the team met with Booher earlier this month, they presented him with an infographic that showed just how many Michigan residents had worked with our staff with the help of the funds he had helped procure. See the full-sized infographic.

This infographic went a long way toward educating Booher about his impact on MSU Extension. It showed that with his legislative work, we were able to help prevent foreclosures and provide information to new homeowners across the state. By sharing our stories with those who have helped us, we can help them feel more confident in helping us again in the future, so that they aren’t only hearing from us when we need something from them.

So consider sharing some of your success stories next time you’re given the chance, because the work you’re all doing is making serious impacts on your communities! Great job, team!

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MSU Extension Macomb County staff members’ contributions acknowledged in State of the County address

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!

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MSU Extension educators counsel struggling homeowners

A perfect storm of “job losses, increasing monthly mortgage payments, and property value depreciation, among other factors, have made Michigan the center of the foreclosure crisis,” according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

 The effects of foreclosure threaten the dream of homeownership for many, ruin credit and push families into crisis very quickly, reducing their quality of life and putting them at risk of homelessness. Children forced to move due to a foreclosure run the risk of being uprooted from their schools and isolated from friends.

 Besides having personal ramifications, foreclosure affects communities through abandoned housing, declines in neighborhood property values and an increase in the cost of city services. A single foreclosed property can be a high cost to taxpayers while the cost of foreclosure counseling is low in comparison.

 An Urban Institute report, published January 2012, demonstrated significant positive effects of financial counseling. Counseled homeowners were more likely to receive more affordable loan modifications, cure serious delinquencies, remain current on their loans and avoid foreclosure completions altogether.

 Michigan State University Extension staff members are working to help Michigan residents keep their homes in these uncertain economic times. In Ionia County, Brenda Long, Extension educator; Jim Buxton, Extension program worker; and Vicki Newcomb, Michigan Foreclosure AmeriCorps Program member; counsel struggling homeowners. The foreclosure education and intervention is available at no cost to distressed homeowners.

 In 2011, MSU Extension Ionia County served 115 homeowner households with one-on-one foreclosure mitigation education and counseling. Out of those homeowner households, 36 percent were able to keep their mortgages current, keep to a repayment plan or receive a modification cure. Only 16 percent foreclosed.

 Preventative measures can prevent financial problems before they lead to foreclosure. Open to anyone interested, the MSU Extension Pre-Purchase Home Buyer Education Program served 20 households in Ionia County in 2011. Most had already chosen their homes to purchase and were referred by local lenders for education prior to closing on their mortgage loans. Education focused on closing, budgeting, and keeping and maintaining the home.

 MSU Extension educators Chris Venema in Lapeer County, Jean Lakin in Macomb County and Terry Clark-Jones in Washtenaw County coordinate similar housing education programs.

 MSU Extension also offers an online homebuyer education course available statewide at ehomeamerica.org/msue.

 The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has been a key partner of MSU Extension since 1990. Because our housing counselors are MSHDA certified, we receive support, local partnerships and opportunities for revenue.

 MSU Extension is also a HUD-approved organization statewide. The mission of HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.

 Thanks to our MSU Extension colleagues who are helping people to improve their lives by reducing the risk of mortgage foreclosure through financial counseling and education.

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Filed under Financial education

MSHDA honors MSUE for foreclosure-prevention work

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend the Michigan Conference on Affordable Housing. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most important issues facing Michigan residents during these trying economic times. I was especially pleased to be on hand when the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) Homeownership Counseling Program recognized MSU Extension in Macomb and Washtenaw counties for serving their communities by offering foreclosure-prevention programming.

Anne Lilla, MSUE Macomb, and Cathy Grant, MSUE Washtenaw, accepted the awards on behalf of their respective counties. Both counties have taken the lead in developing program services that other agencies model, and have increased their capacity to meet the needs of their communities. In addition, they were praised for providing such effective mentoring to counselors from other organizations as well.

You can read more about the Macomb County program in this 2008 special report.

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Filed under Awards, Conferences, Housing