Tag Archives: terry clark-jones

Strategic Connections and Housing Education in District 12

Photo of the side of a house that is made of gray wood with a stair case in front of it. The wall of the house has a window with blue shutters. Over top of the photo is the title of the blog post "Strategic Connections & Housing Education in District 12."

This month we’re highlighting Terry Clark-Jones’ strategic connections with the Washtenaw Housing Education Partnership (WHEP) in District 12. Terry is a Michigan State University (MSU) Extension senior educator who provides programming on two work teams: Financial and Home Ownership Education, and Social Emotional Health.

MSU Extension was a founding member of WHEP in 2001, a partnership designed to bring together housing education providers. The group formed as a response to increased educational requirements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for their affordable housing programs.

Why is housing education important?

“For many potential first-time home buyers, the challenge is coming up with the up-front funds it takes to purchase a home,” Terry said. “It’s important to educate the consumer of the affordable housing programs available to them, such as Michigan State Housing Department Authority Down Payment Assistance, Federal Housing Authority, USDA Rural Development Loans, Habitat for Humanity and the Federal Home Loan Bank Home Ownership Opportunity program.  These programs also require that potential first-time home buyers participate in this education. Research done by Freddie Mac and NeighborWorks show that homeowners who participate in these classes are less likely to foreclose.”

Now, in 2017, the partnership is still going strong, growing from three to eight organizations: Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, POWER Inc., Housing Bureau for Seniors, the Washtenaw County treasurer’s office, the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and MSU Extension. How it works: participants are welcomed and registered through MSU Extension, then they attend our home ownership education classes, and then they move on to the other partner organizations depending on their needs. WHEP has made affordable housing education and programs a seamless process to provide the best and most custom service to prospective buyers.

“This partnership has created many opportunities, including referrals, increased grant funding opportunities, visibility in the community and leads to new partnerships beyond housing education,” Terry said. One funding opportunity helped to create an affordable housing program in Washtenaw County. Because of the partnership, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development received a federal grant to create a special affordable housing program in the county. It was a rehab/acquisition program where participants in a targeted income range could purchase a home and receive up to $35,000 in assistance to help with repairs and a down payment. If they stayed in the home for 20 years, the loan would be forgiven. This program lasted 18 months and helped about 30 families.

Through working with WHEP, Terry has learned that building and maintaining partnerships take a lot of work.

“Partnerships are hard to keep going and productive,” she said. “Their success can be decided by the personalities at the table. But with time and a common goal, it can be a great experience with awesome outcomes.”

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Financial & Homeownership Education work group has all the answers at Money Smart Week event

Money Smart Week, April 5 to 12, is a national public awareness campaign coordinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to help individuals and families better manage their personal finances. More than 400 free Money Smart Week events took place throughout Michigan on topics ranging from kids and money to managing student loan debt, household budgeting and retirement.

Our Michigan State University Extension Financial and Homeownership Education (FHE) work group participated in 12 Money Smart Week events throughout the eight days. One of the largest events was the Fox 2 News “Ask the Expert” program held the morning of April 7. This program consisted of both a live call-in program in the Fox 2 News studios and a live webchat on the MyFoxDetroit.com website. TV viewers either called in to the studio or went on the Web to ask questions on debt, credit, budgeting, homeownership and mortgages, retirement and investing, and fraud and scams.

The FHE team members who participated in the studio taking calls were LaShawn Brown, Terry Clark-Jones, Mike Krauch, Angela Miles, Wanda Roberts, Pam Sarlitto and Rob Weber. This group answered more than 250 calls and also talked with Fox 2 News financial reporter Murray Feldman on-air on a variety of money issues.

Answering questions in the online webchat were FHE team members Jim Buxton, Bill Hendrian, Khurram Imam, Brenda Long, Julie Moberg, Jinnifer Ortquist, Beth Waitrovich and Vivian Washington. This team provided replies to more than 100 questions that came into the chat room.

Money Smart Week provided a great opportunity for the FHE work group to enhance their mission of providing financial education throughout Michigan. And I think the Ask the Expert call-in/live-chat model they’ve developed with Fox 2 News is something that might be appropriate for other program areas and work groups to consider in the future. We’ll hear more about that on the May 5 MSUE Update Webinar.

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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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Staff is right on the money ‒ and the media ‒ during Money Smart Week

Our Michigan State University Extension staff are shaking up the airwaves assisting people with financial issues during Money Smart Week.

A group of our colleagues staffed the phones and talked to about 60 people during the Fox 2 News Detroit morning show April 22 from 6:30 a.m. to noon. Participants included Extension educators Terry Clark-Jones, Mike Crouch, Jean Lakin and Wanda Roberts and Extension program instructors Pam Sarlitto and Khurram Imam.

Jean said, “The problems people called about are far too complicated to solve in a quick conversation. But educators were able to direct people to the correct professionals ‒ housing counselors, attorneys.”

In addition to answering the phones, each staff member appeared on air at least twice to discuss financial management questions with Murray Feldman, Fox 2 News.

Kelly Masters, a consultant who was hired by the Federal Reserve to coordinate Money Smart Week events in the Detroit Metro area, set up the opportunity. People from partner agencies also staffed the phone lines.

In this economy, people need all of the help they can get and that’s where MSU Extension comes in.

Jean said, “Our job isn’t done. Based on the volume of calls, financial issues are definitely something people are struggling with, and we’re here to help people work through those issues.”

In addition, MSU Extension educator Erica Tobe was one of four presenters April 20 at a special live broadcast presentation with WTVS, a Detroit PBS station. The show, presented in a lightning round/game show format to an overflowing audience, educates consumers on protecting, saving, managing and growing their money. It will air July 20 at 8 p.m.

Jean described both of these events as “out-of-the-box ways to promote financial literacy.”

It’s how our colleagues usually perform and the way we get things done – out of the box.

Educators throughout the state are doing similar programming, and I’m afraid to start mentioning them for fear I’ll forget someone. If you’re doing a Money Smart Week activity, please tell us about it in the comments below.

Money Smart Week is a public awareness campaign created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago that was designed to help consumers manage their personal finances more effectively. It runs April 20–27. Events will take place throughout Metro Detroit, Michigan and the United States.

Listen to this Oakland County podcast on Money Smart Week featuring Wanda Roberts: http://www.oakgov.com/podcast/Pages/Episode.aspx?EpisodeId=194

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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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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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MSUE’s Greening Michigan Institute Financial Ed Team participates in Michigan Money Summit

In the current economic situation, Michigan residents are struggling to rebuild lost assets and cope with less income. Michigan State University Extension financial education experts are stepping up to the challenge to assist people in dealing with this situation. MSUE offers assistance in many ways, among them financial classes on budgeting, home repair workshops and foreclosure prevention counseling.

 Increased public awareness of MSUE’s role will allow more residents to receive unbiased information and the education needed to aid in their economic recovery. With that in mind, Macomb County MSUE participated in the annual Michigan Money Summit Oct. 9 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts sponsored by WWJ, a major Detroit radio station. Members of the Greening Michigan Institute’s Financial Education Team decided that it was an excellent opportunity to highlight its strong community programs, university research and the new Michigan Money Health website.

Michigan State University Extension participates at WWJ Michigan Money Summit.

Michigan State University Extension participates at WWJ Michigan Money Summit.

 MSUE became an event sponsor at a cost of $4,000 paid through Community Reinvestment Act bank donations. Sponsorship resulted in 20 promotional radio announcements, inclusion on the WWJ Web page and event participation.

MSUE made arrangements for Dr. Lisa D. Cook, Michigan State University assistant professor in the Department of Economics and the James Madison College, to serve on a panel with David Sowerby, chief portfolio manager, Loomis Sayles, LLC, and Ken Ross, commissioner, Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation. Dr. Cook presented her research paper, “The Financial and Economic Crises: Implications for Consumer Finance and for Households in Michigan” and took questions from WWJ television and radio talent Murray Feldman and the audience. The presentation and discussion were then played on radio throughout the day. MSUE educators staffed a table and distributed program brochures, flyers and materials to attendees.

Michigan Money summit panelists

David Sowerby, chief portfolio manager, Loomis Sayles, LLC; Dr. Lisa Cook, MSU assistant professor; and Ken Ross, commissioner, Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation; were panelists at the Michigan Money Summit.

MSUE’s participation in the WWJ Michigan Money Summit resulted in a demonstrated link between campus research and the community – a key mission of land-grant universities, higher visibility of MSUE staff members as macro- and micro-economic experts working to improve the financial stability of residents and a funding opportunity for MSUE in the area of statewide investor education. And it also helped me to realize what a great resource we have on campus in the person of Dr. Cook.

 Greening Michigan Institute educators who took part in the summit were Jean Lakin, Anne Lilla, Terry Clark-Jones, Kathe Hale, Connie Costner and Erica Tobe. Thanks to all for helping to move us forward in this high priority even as we continue to develop our plans for new programming in financial literacy!

 The Michigan Money Health website can be found at http://www.mimoneyhealth.com/. The Michigan Money Health Survey is currently at this site. Dr. Cook is continuing to collect data from the site. Staff members may contribute to her research by participating. In a few weeks, the site will also contain financial literacy content.

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