Helping Michigan homeowners stay in their homes after financial hardships from COVID-19

MSU Extension financial and homeownership educators quickly moved to aid over 300 Michigan homeowners across 21 Michigan counties in applying for the Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund program.

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As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) signed into law in March 2021, the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) was created through $9.961 billion in federal funding allocated to help the country’s most vulnerable homeowner households better weather the financial impacts after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. The Homeowner Assistance Fund has provided support that prevents mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement.

The impacts on a homeowner facing foreclosure or loss of utilities are far reaching and can extend much past their immediate household and into the community in which they live, especially if children or older adults are members of the household. To help combat these hardships on households and communities across the country, each state was awarded ARPA funds to establish their own Homeowner Assistance Fund, based on the number of unemployed individuals and mortgagors with delinquent mortgage payments. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) was allocated $242.81 million to establish the Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund, with applications opening to Michigan residents mid-February 2022.

Michigan State University Extension financial and homeownership educators are certified housing counselors by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and quickly moved to aid over 300 Michigan homeowners across 21 Michigan counties in exploring eligibility for the MIHAF program, submitting their online applications, and providing follow-up to check their status until a decision was made. Many homeowners reported challenges with accessing or utilizing the technology needed to self-apply and upload electronically-required documents, which MSU Extension educators also provided support for to ensure these aspects did not serve as barriers to this important program.

In addition, MSU Extension educators provided in-depth mortgage counseling to homeowners, including communicating with their mortgage servicers and submitting mortgage assistance applications. The educators also worked closely with many county treasurers who referred homeowners in their community facing foreclosure for delinquent property taxes. These efforts also supported other initiatives MSU Extension partners on with MSHDA and HUD, like the Housing Education Program and the Housing Stability Counseling Program.

Through the work of the MSU Extension financial and homeownership educators, 182 homeowners were approved for MIHAF assistance, allowing more Michiganders to stay in their homes and remain as members of their communities.

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