Helping Detroiters “Step Forward” Into Secure Home Ownership

As a part of the 2019 Journal of Law Reform Symposium “Dispossessing Detroit: How the Law Takes Property,” JLR is excited to partner with the United Community Housing Coalition to host a clinic for Step Forward Michigan applications on November 10th. 

After the 2008 financial crisis and downturn in the housing market, Michigan used federal government funding to establish Step Forward Michigan, a program to help homeowners struggling to make mortgage, property tax, or condominium fee payments. Over 30,000 homeowners have received assistance through the program, which is set to end on December 1, 2019. 

The program provides qualifying homeowners with interest free loans of up to $30,000 to help them catch up on delinquent property taxes, mortgage payments and condominium association fees. The loans are forgivable at 20 percent each year, as long as the property remains the homeowner’s primary residence. If the homeowner is still living in the home after five years, the loan is completely forgiven.

To be eligible to apply, the homeowner must have experienced an involuntary hardship that led to the delinquency. Examples of qualifying events are a medical emergency, job loss, divorce, death, or one-time unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses like home repairs. Additionally, the homeowner has to have enough income to cover their future mortgage and property taxes once they are caught up. They must also show that they do not have sufficient cash reserves in their bank account to cover the relevant payments. 

A one-time unexpected event can spiral into financial trouble with outsize consequences. JLR is excited to partner with UCHC and provide Detroit residents with assistance in completing Step Forward applications and moving towards resolving any delinquency in their home ownership-related payments. This is just one of many legal reform strategies that we will discuss at Dispossessing Detroit – RSVP to attend the Symposium here!