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February 6, 2013

St. Joseph County Treasurer participating in ‘Help for Hardest Hit, Step Forward Michigan’ program

St. Joseph County Courthouse - winter

The St. Joseph County Treasurer’s Office has agreed to participate in the Help for Hardest Hit, Step Forward Michigan program.

The program is designed to assist homeowners who have endured a financial hardship and have fallen behind on their property taxes and are unable to catch up.

County Treasurer Judie Ratering reported her office’s participation in the program in a written memo and brief remarks during Tuesday’s (February 5th) meeting of the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners.  In making the announcement, Ratering said, “This is a tremendous opportunity for families of St. Joseph County who are struggling in tax foreclosures to help keep them in their home.”

County Treasurer Judie Ratering spoke during Tuesday’s meeting of the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners and reported that her office is partnering with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) in the Help for Hardest Hit, Step Forward Michigan program.

In her memo, Ratering said, “Whether it’s a divorce, medical illness, or unemployment, many Michigan families have encountered some significant obstacles.”

Ratering said her office is partnering with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), which received $498.6 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury for programs aimed at helping homeowners.

Ratering explained that, if the homeowner is accepted into the program, they could receive up to $30,000 of federal funds administered by MSHDA to pay their back mortgage payments or delinquent property taxes.  In order to qualify, homeowners must live in the home as their primary residence, have limited cash reserves, and demonstrate a significant hardship.  Approved homeowners will be asked to sign a forgivable note and mortgage lien for the amount of assistance granted.  The loan is proved at a zero percent interest rate, requires no payments and is forgivable over a five-year period, as long as the homeowner occupies the property as their principal residence.

In her memo to commissioners, Ratering said, “I encourage everyone who is at high risk of default or facing foreclosure to apply.  The funds have already been allocated for Michigan and when it’s gone it’s gone!”

Homeowners must apply for assistance directly through the Step Forward Michigan website at www.stepforwardmichigan.org or call (866) 946-7432 to speak with a qualified counselor.  Ratering said the website is the fastest way to submit an application for assistance and noted that there is also a link on the County Treasurer’s website at www.stjosephcountymi.org/treasurer.

To hear County Treasurer Judie Ratering’s announcement to county commissioners regarding the program, click here (1:26).


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