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Financial help available for homeowners in need



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February 05, 2014 - Community Housing Network (CHN) representatives attended a Jan. 13 Clarkston City Council meeting to let residents know there are assistance programs for homeowners if they have delinquent property taxes or are facing foreclosure.

CHN works with the Hardest Hit/Step Forward Michigan Loan Rescue program, which provides up to $30,000 in assistance to eligible homeowners who have delinquent property taxes on their primary residence. CHN, the largest permanent supportive housing provider in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, provides the hotline and housing counseling team to work with homeowners on the process.

CHN Housing Counseling Supervisor Soyini Boyer spoke to city officials about the various assistance programs available.

Foreclosure prevention counseling, programs for the homeless and supportive services for families is also offered at CHN.

Other programs at CHN include homelessness prevention, housing assistance and development, community education and referral, advocacy and additional services for those afflicted with disabilities or in need of long-term assistance.

Boyer said the non-profit organization offers homebuyer and homeowner education programs, and works to help potential homeowners secure down payment assistance through Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Boyer said despite the economy improving there are still people in need of assistance.

Unemployed or underemployed who are facing issues with tax delinquency or foreclosure could once rely on equity they had built up in their home, but since home values have decreased over the years they are unable to tap into that equity to see them through rough times.

"That equity is no longer a safety line," said Boyer, adding it will probably be several years before home prices increase.

In addition to help through CHN, there is also many other assistance programs available through other programs.

"We are really a one stop shop for resources," said Boyer.

Before homeowners get in trouble with delinquent taxes or foreclosure is the best time to seek assistance.

"We want homeowners to know they have rights," she said. "We also want to help before people get behind if you even think you will be late on a payment call us and let us know before it happens. The banks really do not want your house."

She also warned homeowners to never engage in business with companies promising foreclosure assistance because they are often scams, and it's best to seek assistance through CHN.

"Our staff is highly trained and we can help homeowners meet goals and also help with navigating programs," she said.

Boyer said other programs like Step Forward Michigan can offer assistance like a 5-year-loan with 0 percent interest.

Other types of help includes free financial education with budgeting and spending, money management, debt reduction and saving, insurance planning and more.

If a family is facing homelessness the CHN can provide assistance in many ways from finding emergency shelter to helping with financial assistance to secure new housing.

Boyer said the first step when a family is seeking assistance is applying for an SER from the Michigan Department of Human Services. Many agencies require a denial from DHS before providing assistance.

Clarkston City Mayor Joe Luginski asked City Manager Carol Eberhardt how many homes are in foreclosure in the city.

Eberhardt said there are really not that many in the city, but it is still good information to have.

Even though there are not many housing issues in the city, Eberhardt said she wants to be proactive in helping homeowners.

For more information on the assistance program, visit their website at www.communityhousingnetwork.org or call 1-866-282-3119.

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