Tag Archives: mshda

PlacePlans initiative leads to passage of Allegan riverfront proposal

More than 70 percent of Allegan voters approved a proposal Nov. 5 to take $500,000 from the city’s sinking fund to support a riverfront plan.

The plan is a collaborative effort of the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC), MSU Extension and the Michigan Municipal League (MML). The concept is built around Gov. Snyder’s MI Place initiative that focuses on placemaking – creating vibrant, walkable places where people want to live and work. The three parties worked together through PlacePlans, a MI Place partnership that helps communities design and plan for transformative placemaking projects with the support of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). MSU received a grant from MSHDA to develop design proposals around placemaking.

Warren Rauhe, SPDC associate professor, said, “The passing of the proposal is an outstanding first step. This is seed money. Other grants and funds could double or triple that amount.”

“One of the main tenets of PlacePlans was to build local consensus resulting in a shared local vision and tangible outcomes,” said Wayne Beyea, outreach specialist in the SPDC. “The community got together and there was real action that happened right on the heels of the proposal’s unveiling.”

The Allegan riverfront plan involved three components: 1) the plan and the illustrations 2) the audit of the assets that the community already had to support the plan and 3) the actual process itself involving hundreds of people including a design charrette. A charrette is an intensive multi-day, collaborative design workshop resulting in shared guiding principles for physical improvements.

The primary role of the SPDC, led by Wayne and Warren, was to develop planning and design recommendations and offer technical assistance.

Luke Forrest and Heather Van Poucker of the MML coordinated and audited the community’s assets.

MSU Extension field staff played a key role in guiding the charrettes following the National Charrette Institute’s Charrette System. They interacted with key stakeholders and assisted with facilitation of interviews. MSU Extension educators involved are part of the government and public policy work group in the Greening Michigan Institute. They include Brad Neumann, Julie Pioch, Dean Solomon, Michelle Walk and Richard Wooten.

“The collaborative approach using Extension expertise around design charrettes is what makes this project unique,” said Wayne. “Warren and I worked in concert with students, faculty, MSU Extension educators, MML and state agency partners, using funding from MSHDA. The effort went so well that the same three partners are under contract to do this again.”

Allegan is one of four cities that were part of MI Place placemaking projects and collaborative efforts by MSU SPDC, MSU Extension and the MML. The others include Alpena, Sault Ste. Marie and Dearborn.

“The projects involved more than 1,400 local participants among the four communities – extensive public involvement,” said Warren.

“PlacePlans strives to reach the goal of attracting vibrant talent to the state,” he said.

The work of the SPDC, Extension and the MML should help that goal become a reality.

Read the Downtown Allegan Riverfront Development Project PlacePlan Concept Report:

http://www.cityofallegan.org/reports/finalreportriverfrontredevelopmentproject.pdf

Read an article and watch a video about the proposal on this WZZM 13 webpage: http://www.wzzm13.com/news/article/272417/2/Riverfront-proposal-on-Allegan-city-ballot

Read more here in this MLive article: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2013/11/allegan_city_voters_xxxx_50000.html#incart_river_default

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Filed under Urban planning

Extension staff members help residents through property tax assistance

In a July 26, 2012, Spotlight, I told you about the Step Forward Michigan Program. The U.S. Department of the Treasury established the Hardest Hit Fund in 2010 to aid families in states hit hardest by the economic and housing market downturn. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) oversees distribution of the fund in Michigan where it’s known as the Step Forward Michigan Program.

In January 2013 through the Step Forward Michigan Program, the MSHDA added property tax assistance to their Loan Rescue Program. Homeowners that have endured a qualifying involuntary hardship that has caused them to fall behind may be eligible. Without this assistance, these homeowners, which in many cases have paid off their home mortgage, would have lost their homes due to tax foreclosure.

Our Michigan State University Extension counseling and support staff provide ongoing help to homeowners in getting questions answered, helping with the application process and correcting applications so that Macomb County residents have the best chance for assistance. Greening Michigan Extension, Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) educator Jean Lakin leads the team of Natalie Ciampichini, Helena Fleming, AmeriCorps member Alicia McMiller and Rob Weber.

Extension educator and District 11 coordinator Marie Ruemenapp said, “Macomb Executive’s Office staff and the treasurer are just ecstatic with what MSUE (Jean and her staff) have been able to do.”

“The very productive partnership between MSU Extension and the Macomb County Treasurer’s Office is really what has driven the success of this program in Macomb,” said Ted Wahby, the Macomb County treasurer. “As we reach out to delinquent taxpayers, we know we can count on Jean Lakin and her team of housing counselors at MSUE to guide people through the application process. Our team effort has resulted in more than $1.1 million dollars in back taxes paid, and more than 175 families no longer at risk of losing their home.”

Read more in this Macomb Daily article: http://www.macombdaily.com/government-and-politics/20131003/treasurers-program-collects-900000-saves-hundreds-of-homes

Macomb is not the only county taking advantage of the Step Forward Michigan program and of the help given by MSU Extension staff.

Denine Kamprath, deputy Monroe County treasurer said, “We feel that this program is a wonderful opportunity to help people that have hardship situations be able to get ‘caught up’ on the back taxes that they owe, and to keep them out of the foreclosure situation. Hopefully, by getting this assistance, they will be able to stay on track and avoid falling back into this pattern for the future. . . . Thanks for all your continuous help with our residents.”

In Monroe County, according to Deputy Treasurer Kamprath, with support from MSU Extension staff members Terry Clark-Jones and Pam Sarlitto, 18 residents have been assisted and a total amount of $113,533.94 in back taxes has been collected as of October 2013.

MSU Extension is an MSHDA-certified housing counseling agency. We have been assisting Michigan residents in applying for the tax foreclosure Step Forward Michigan funds since Jan. 15.

Other Financial and Homeownership Education work group members across the state involved in helping Michigan residents through the Step Forward Michigan program besides those mentioned above include Jim Buxton, Scott Day, Sharon Jeffery, Mike Krauch, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, AmeriCorps member Vicki Newcomb, Christine Venema, Beth Waitrovich and Vivian Washington.

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Filed under Financial education

Step Forward Michigan Program assists homeowners struggling to hold on to their homes

Michigan State University Extension educator Jean Lakin would like to bring a great resource to the attention of Extension educators across the state. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), one of our partners in the Financial Housing and Energy work group, part of the Greening Michigan Institute, has a program that benefits citizens across Michigan who struggle with underwater mortgages and unemployment.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury established the Hardest Hit Fund to provide targeted aid to families in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. Michigan received $498.6 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to operate the Hardest Hit Funds program. In July 2010, Michigan was the first state to award and disburse Hardest Hit Funds. The MSHDA oversees the distribution of the funds in Michigan. The Hardest Hit Funds program operates under the name Step Forward Michigan Program.

Extension educators can direct clients needing assistance to apply online at http://www.stepforwardmichigan.org/. More than 25,000 Michigan homeowners have initiated an application. If financial literacy is outside your normal area of expertise, feel free to refer to Jean or one of her colleagues on the Financial, Housing and Energy work group.

The Step Forward Michigan website also offers a toolkit for partners to help get the word out to homeowners about the program through the use of the program’s logo, Web ads, posters and cards, newsletters and social media posts. Any educator can use the kit.

Jean said, “We currently have MSHDA-certified housing counselors in Macomb, Washtenaw, Lapeer and Ionia counties. However, Step Forward Michigan is an excellent resource for Extension educators in any institute in any county to provide to residents as we know the economic and mortgage crisis has impacted all of us.”

Jean co-leads the Financial Housing and Energy work group with Extension educator Terry Clark-Jones. Extension Health and Nutrition Institute educators Christine Venema and Brenda Long are also involved in the Step Forward Michigan initiative.

In related news, a national foreclosure settlement will allow the MSHDA and MSU Extension to expand our financial education and counseling services for homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure or those who may have recently gone through foreclosure. We’ll have more information on this opportunity in the future.

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Filed under Financial education

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