Tag Archives: step forward michigan program

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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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