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Posted on Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

New Michigan program to provide up to $30K in relief for homeowners behind on property tax, mortgage payments

By Tom Perkins

A new program funded with nearly $500 million in federal money could help thousands of Washtenaw County and Michigan residents avoid foreclosure.

Residents who meet a minimum set of qualifications now can apply for up to $30,000 in past due property tax or mortgage payment relief through the Washtenaw County Treasurer’s Office.

The program, Step Forward Michigan, is the first of its kind in that it provides funds directly to homeowners who are behind on their property tax payments. The Washtenaw County Treasurer’s Office is partnering with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), which is receiving federal funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Wasthenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary was one of five county treasurers statewide to help organize the program. The funds were previously only available to those behind on their mortgage payments.


Officials hope to avoid foreclosures on homes like this one in the city of Ypsilanti, which sold in a county tax auction several years ago.

Tom Perkins | For

There are around 10,000 to 12,000 county residents annually who are delinquent on their property taxes, and no data is available for how many are behind on their mortgage payments.

McClary said she believes the program will have a tremendous affect on the local economy.

“People who are middle income, middle class or have less income than that spend their money right here in the community,” McClary said. “They’re spending it on food, at the local bookstore, on camp for their kids. This is the first time in the history of the country that I’m aware of that we are taking money directly from the federal government and putting it into the pockets of homeowners to save their homes from tax foreclosure.”

To qualify, homeowners must meet a basic set of qualifications. The money must be used for a primary residence. Homeowners also must prove they have enough money to keep making payments after the back taxes are paid off. The assistance is a one-time offer only and is available until funds run out.

Applicants must be prepared to show a mortgage statement, proof of income, tax returns, recent paystubs and documentation of any benefits.

They also must provide a legal description of the property, a tax identification number and the amount of taxes due, which McClary said the treasurer’s office would assist with.

“My office is providing one on one, direct assistance,” she said.

The program started on Jan. 15 though it hasn’t been widely publicized here because MSHDA is working out kinks in its phone system and McClary said her office is in the middle of its busiest time of the year.

But, so far, there are 25 homeowners who have begun the application process in Washtenaw County.

Anyone interested in more information or applying can go to, or call MSHDA at 866-946-7432.

Homeowners also can call the Washtenaw County Treasurer’s Office for assistance 734-222-6600, or email at

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at


L. C. Burgundy

Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

This is simply obscene.


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 4:41 a.m.

Why does this program have to be a government handout rather than a government tax exempt loan? The people who receive the help should have to pay it back out of their taxes until it is payed back to make it fair to those of us that are funding it.


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 2:45 a.m.

So people who didn't buy a house because they didn't have the money to pay all the costs, including taxes, aren't getting help and those who bought houses they couldn't afford completely are getting help. Does that summarize what will happen?


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

Oh for Pete's Sake!


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

The following article gives a little more detail about this program. It does not appear to be handout, but a loan.


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

Then let the free market provide the loans.

Tom Joad

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

A loan with zero percent interest, that is forgiven 20% every year for five years is a handout


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Wonder if a more multi-party system would help decide the financial policies in our country more fairly. Of course, some have earned this help you could say, but there does seem to be a gray area that incentivizes not working because then you earn less than the dole would provide.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

Exactly, Doug. Why not target this program toward people who have made the tough budget decisions and haven't missed payments? In other words, help the people who have shown that they are responsible for their decisions despite the tough economic times. Because these are the ones who will build a lasting community.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

What kind of relief is there for those who work an extra job and go without so they can pay their mortgage?

Usual Suspect

Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 12:21 a.m.

As a result of your hard work and sacrifice, you will eventually succeed. Then you will be hated and taxed even more by the progressives.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 6 p.m.

Not one thing, the harder you work the more they want.

Basic Bob

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Free money is only available for people who quit trying. If you stop sending your kids to camp and eat at home to save money, you don't qualify.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

You must be one of those Rpublicans that hates kids. Stop sending my kid to camp? Why? You still got fat pockets. I'm kidding, but a lot of people believe that way and they vote. Things are changing and for the producers it's not getting better.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

This is just wrong...............

Dog Guy

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

A new program funded with nearly $500 million in federal money could help thousands of homeowners who can't keep up mortgage and property tax payments because they are being taxed to pay for a new program funded with nearly $500 million in federal money which could help thousands of homeowners who can't keep up mortgage and property tax payments because they are being taxed to pay for a new program funded with nearly $500 million in federal money which could help thousands of . . .

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

If you're going to give it away in a free for all, what about the people who can't afford to own a house and rent?


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

I am middle class, have a fulltime job and all my bills are up to date. I do not have much of a savings and live paycheck to paycheck. Two years ago I had to have an unscheduled surgery. I was unable to work for 6 weeks. This meant no income for 6 weeks. When I called my mortgage company to try to make payment arrangements they referred me to STEPFORWARD. This is a good program to help those who find themselves in sudden, unforseen circumstances. STEPFORWAD made the 2 mortgage payments for me so I would not fall 90 days behind and face possible foreclosure.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

coffequeenie and slave2work, as others have already satated you are expection to the rule and I do not mind helping people like you, but way to many just sit around looking for a hand out form the government and my tax dollars.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

emotional arguments are why we are in this mess in the first place. For every "coffeequeenie" there are 10 fold of the morons just trying to scam the system. Everyone knows it.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

If you live paycheck to paycheck, it might have been better not to buy a house. Isn't the rule of thumb to have 6 months in savings, in case you loose income? On the other hand, if you bought a house 15 years or so ago, it was not obvious that cost of living was going to outpace income levels as much as it has been. So I see there are cases where this is a good program, but unfortunately my guess is that will be the minority.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

You are the exception to the rule & deserve the help!


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

why should I when i know many first hand that live the lifestyle I mentioned. Yours is the expection, not the rule (and you know that.)


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

So many negative comments, making assumptions of people who need help. I worked my butt off to get my house paid off, and went to college at night while working too. I knew my job was going to end, and the business sold, so I went back to college. I now have found a part-time job at 9 p/h. But it took me 9 months to get this job. No cable No phone, No " kids at camp" Living on 500 per month. Yep, I need the help this offers.So Ican get back on my feet,and not have this worry also . Stop making judgments of people when you don't know their circumstances .


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

I dont mind helping out once in a while but there has to be a fundamental change in how citizens treat their finances. Of those delinquent on taxes, how many do you think cut off the cable to save money? How many smart phones do you think they have on their account? How many Xboxes are in the house? Do they still go to Tigers or Lions games? How many North Face hoodies did they just buy their kid? Did the Easter Bunny bring their spouse Season 2 of the Walking Dead on DVD? In other words, is having back taxes just a nusiance or are they spending every waking second working to pay them off? We spend on crap to make use feel better and then we go into debt BUT we dont stop spending on crap! We think its a right to spend with no consequences. Ask yourself if you know someone who is out of work who still waiting in line for a new Iphone? I know 2 people who did that. I expect more from people and so should you. @ordman - how am I a huma being w/o empathy for wanting others to take responsibility and change their ways? The house is the first priority folks; everything else is fighting for second. Past generations would be insulted with how we manage money. And our government is teaching these lessons, borrowing from China to loan to Egypt? Spending beyonds its means and when things are bleak, they take more from us. Folks, this is a non-partisan issue - we need to wake up and learn before its too late.


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 4:03 a.m.

If we taxed stereotyping you alone could fix the economy.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

objectively no one will criticize my comments - they will only claim there are those that do not live this was and deserve help (true) so you cant really hate on what I wrote when most people, if they are honest, think every word I wrote in true there is a huge philosophical difference in how we, as americans, see debt these days compared to the generations before us who built things how a person could even argue that point is befuddling


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

By the down votes on your comment it is already to late. Maybe we should all join the party and just say screw it.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

We as a nation are 17,000,000,000,000 dollars in debt. I am totality disgusted with our current leadership, we have run over a trillion dollar yearly deficit for the last four years and there is no end in sight. BALANCE THE BUDGET, Stop this madness. Every dollar the federal government gives out was taken from someone else. I'm being taxed to death, I'm sorry but if you can't afford a house then don't try to buy one. Home ownership is not a right; it's the result of hard work and responsible management of money and resources.

An Arborigine

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Can't wait to see Snyder's "Homeowner Relief" tax on next year's bill.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

Do you really think this is a Republican agenda item?

Usual Suspect

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Once again, the rest of us are punished for making responsible decisions. "They're spending it on food" .. .OK, fine ... " at the local bookstore, on camp for their kids." Uh, if you can't afford to pay your property taxes, you can't afford to send your kids to camp. Oh, wait, yes you can - the rest of us will pay for it for you! Wahoo, free money!


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I am a middle class, middle income earner and make my payments on time but, I know many people who were in the same boat as I am lucky enough to be in and have lost their job due to poor economic times, or been laid off for months and months at a time. Trades people who do back breaking work and who have earned their homes the same as everyone else. I have no problem helping my friends, neighbors and family from losing something that they worked so hard to gain in the first place. May those of you making negative comments never fall on hard times, you will drown like a fish out of water.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 10:39 p.m.

Let me be one of those that decides who gets our free money! I would draw the line at owning boats, atv's , travel trailer, multiple tattoos, taking vacations, getting your nails done every week. Another bad giveaway mostly to those that would go broke in 6 months if they won the lottery! I have a son that lost his home not because they could not afford it. I have a son in the trades that was out of work for months. BUT he had the foresight to keep something in the bank. There are always exceptions. Prove to me you did not spend your money on toys or vacations and I am willing to help.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Watergirl, How many of these same "poor friends, neighbors and family" did not have 6 months of savings saved to make mortage and tax pays because of new cars, boats, Rv's, vacations, ect..., before the poor econmic times? I too, am a middle class, middle income earner making my payments on time, but my husband has 21 year old ford ranger, my jeep is 2000, no vaction in 6 years, ect... My husband also worked a back breaking trade job was laid off for months, paid $900 dollars a month in child support, ect... No, people need to start living on what they earn and save for a rainy day, not ask me to do it for them.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

I love the excuse that you lost your job "because of the economy". Have to blame someone else don't you ? Wasn't your fault at all was it ? Hey - maybe you're in the minority and are a very smart and hard worker that just fell on bad luck, but if that's the case then I trust you'll figure out something soon. Corporate america needs an excuse to fire people these days! This argument is unpopular, but that doesn't make it any less true. Also - you mention that if people fall on hard times we should be given tax money from the government. I laugh at that. What ever happened to saving money for a rainy day ? I keep 1 years worth of wages in cash in the bank for that very reason. Plan ahead if you're smart, but if you don't - don't cry about it on the internet. And by the way, hopefully you DO find work soon - if you got laid off only for the reason of a bad economy I'm sure you'll find something soon as you must be a hard worker... best of luck


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

water girl there are many of us that are hanging on by a thread who can't afford to make 2 mortage payments. I guess we should just suck it up and get 2, 3 jobs so we make our own mortage and help someone else. If I were Warren Buffet I'd be more then happy to help, but that is not the case here.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

That makes you a human being with empathy and a sense of social responsibility. That, of course, makes you very alone in the comments section.

Hugh Giariola

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

How many mortgage lenders do NOT escrow for taxes with each mortgage payment? I'm guessing very few, so I am wondering how one can be delinquent on taxes but current on the mortgage?


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

It's called "living within your means". Government has no place stepping in and preventing these people from learning this valuable lesson.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

What is this "living within your means" you speak of?


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Unbelievable, if they can continue to make house payments why can't they continue to pay taxes? Again another program to enable individuals with our tax dollars that we don't have to give to those that neglect responsibility as a homeowner. Over 300,000 homes will forclose this year and this administration is doing everything in its power to make sure that they continue to make statements on how great the economy is recovering, sure why not when our taxes dollars continue to provide for those who want government handouts. Lean FORWARD! This is the Change.

Tom Joad

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

You've got money to send your kids to camp but not pay your property tax

Susan Montgomery

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

Headline typo - "homowners"

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Updated. Thanks.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

That's great, now I get to pay someone else's mortgage and taxes. I hope someone's still around to pay mine after they rum me into the ground.


Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

If you have enough money to keep making payments, why should the rest of us pay your taxes? Yet another government program driving our country over the real fiscal cliff.