Step Forward Michigan increases assistance to homeowners

More help is now available for struggling Michigan homeowners.

The Step Forward Michigan (SFM) program recently increased assistance amounts to eligible struggling homeowners with their mortgage payments. This program has already helped thousands of homeowners afford to keep their homes. More may now qualify for increased subsidies.

“This is a wonderful program,” said Jim Buxton, housing counselor with Ionia County Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. “Most of our housing clients are receiving SFM funds in recent months. It enables them to keep their homes instead of going through foreclosure. We help them fill out the application, submit all the required documents and follow-up until a decision is made. Once they get their payments caught up, they can also apply for a loan modification with their lender.”

A summary of the revisions are highlighted below:

Eligible property type now includes 1-4 unit (vs. a single-family unit) owner occupied residences for all programs

Unemployment Mortgage Subsidy program

  • Mortgage payment subsidy for a full 12 months (vs. two months after the homeowner returns to work)
  • Equal to 50 percent of the validated mortgage payment up to $1,000 per month (vs. $750 per month)
  • Maximum assistance of $20,000 which can include monthly subsidy and funds toward delinquencies (vs. $10,000)
  • Must be receiving Michigan Unemployment Benefits to qualify
  • Loan rescue assistance up to $20,000 (vs. $10,000)

As long as the validated mortgage payment is 45 percent of gross household income or below, there is no longer a need to document a recovery.

Modification Plan (a new program)

  • Targeting under-employed homeowners.
  • Mortgage must be at least two months delinquent.
  • Mortgage payment must exceed 45 percent of gross household income.
  • Homeowner has a qualifying involuntary hardship.
  • Assistance up to $20,000 to cure delinquency and other associated costs.
  • Servicer must modify the loan terms.
  • Available on second mortgages if first mortgage is current.

Homeowners who already received Hardest-Hit assistance cannot reapply, however, clients who previously applied and were ineligible because they were outside of program parameters may reopen their application under the updated guidelines.

Visit the Step Forward Michigan’s website to start an application or contact your local MSU Extension office in or near Macomb, Washtenaw, Lapeer and Ionia Counties. In other areas, find a housing counselor at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s website.

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