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State launches program to help homeowners struggling due to pandemic

Children look out their window
Kelly Sikkema
Children look out their window

Michigan has launched a new program that officials say will help lower-income homeowners.

It's for people behind on mortgages, property taxes or utilities due to the pandemic.

Mary Townley is director of home ownership with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

She said the federal foreclosure moratorium and many individual lender mortgage forbearance programs have ended. And many people haven't been able to catch up since then.

"The homeowners can't get back to their job, or they're back to their job but they're working less hours. They still don't have their income like it was prior to the pandemic," said Townley.

The initial $121 million will come out of the state's federal American Rescue Plan funding. Another $121 million will be allocated to the program later.

Townley said it's likely the program could help up to 13,000 families in Michigan. She said lenders are being enrolled, and they are expected to help the state get the word out about the new source of assistance.

"Most of the people that are coming to us right now are delinquent on their mortgage," she said, "but then they also are delinquent on utilities, gas, electricity, water, sewer."

Townley said many lower-income homeowners in Michigan have Federal Housing Administration loans, and since the FHA's mortgage forbearance program lasts only six months, it's likely that many people who apply for relief from the new program will have those FHA loans.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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