Source: Sherman Publications

Tax relief for Orion homeowners

by Lance Farrell

January 16, 2013

Would you like up to $30,000 deducted from your delinquent property taxes? If you've got back taxes that have placed your home under threat of foreclosure, Oakland County treasurer Andy Meisner has an option that just might keep your family in a home.

Nearly two dozen Orion family residences are at risk of foreclosure due to delinquent property taxes. On average, Meisner indicated, delinquent tax bills run between $3,000 to $7,000, though there are many with greater outstanding balances. Tuesday, Jan. 15 was the first day of a new program designed to save those familes from eviction.

At-risk homeowners can stave off foreclosure by taking part in the Step Forward Michigan Loan Rescue program. According to deputy Treasurer Lauren Bloom, qualified homeowners are those who "live in their home as a primary residence, demonstrate a significant hardship that has caused them to fall behind on their property tax obligations, and they can’t have more than 6 months of family cash reserves."

The foreclosure prevention initiative affords a "fresh start for families who have been through an incredible difficult time. It's so important to keep families in their homes and proimote neighborhood stability," Meisner said.

The program launched on Jan. 15, but there's no deadline to register. Interested homeowners are encouraged to apply for the federal tax relief with the help of certified housing counselor. A housing counselor can help applicants "get their ducks in a row, because they know exactly what sort of documentation the state's looking for," Meisner indicated. He recommended Oakland housing counselor Lon Shook as an example of the free counseling applicants can receive. You can contact Shook at 248-452-9200.

Monies for the tax-relief program were allocated in 2010 when $498 million of federal foreclosure relief dollars were given to Michigan to relief so-called "hardest-hit" families. These funds were initialy earmarked for mortgage foreclosure prevention, but are now eligible for payment of back taxes. Michigan has reserved $205 million for the tax relief program.

Meisner said the program helps all of Michigan because not only does it help people save their homes, but the Treasurer's office is able to collect tax revenue that in turn is distributed to various taxing authorities like schools, libraries, fire and police departments. In addition, the tax relief helps stabilize the neighborhoods and prevents the harm that is caused from vacant, abandoned properties.

"It's a win for all involved," Meisner said. “Oakland County and our region must continue fighting foreclosure on all fronts,” said Meisner. “This helps families keep their homes, and helps the County’s bottom line.”

For more information contact Deputy Treasurer Lauren Bloom with the Oakland County Foreclosure Prevention Initiative at 248-858-0624, or call the hotline at 866-946-7432.