Voices of AmeriCorps – Jenny Ziegler

[This post is part of a blog series highlighting the viewpoints of AmeriCorps Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps members serving at different foreclosure host sites around Michigan. Click here for information about the program.]

Every day, as a Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps member, I take phone calls from folks struggling to make payments on their mortgage.  Of course each homeowner’s story is unique; however, a common thread pieces them together.  Hundreds of homeowners in the State of Michigan feel the effects of a changing economy, high unemployment rates, and the strain on income due to a lack of medical insurance.  Realty Trac’s projection of more foreclosures, eruptions over the State budget, and uncertainty of unemployment rates continue to keep Michigan residents on the edge of their seats.  It becomes easier to sit on the sidelines and focus on the devastating effects of the foreclosure and financial crisis.  As someone who believes in community development, my thoughts can not remain fixated on the negative.

This crisis hit State of Michigan residents, and the nation, in epic proportions.  The response from people trying to mitigate the loss faced by Michiganders was undeniably great.  The Federal government allocated funds through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (Neighborhood Stabilization Program) to the State of Michigan to distribute to cities, local governments, and nonprofit organizations to fund creative, sustainable efforts to rebuild cities and communities affected by the crisis.  The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) organized the Hardest Hit Program to provide financial assistance to Michigan Homeowners who are struggling because of job loss.  MSHDA also organized contracts for Foreclosure Prevention counselors and agencies to sustainably provide effective services.  The Community Economic Development Association of Michigan and the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force organized efforts and groups of people to respond to individual homeowners struggling to find ways to continue to live in their homes and work with their bank.  In addition, they have fought for sound policy that paves new opportunities for Michigan homeowners.  Agencies, the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps, and Foreclosure Prevention Counselors across the State of Michigan began receiving training and opening their doors to respond to high needs.  For some, these efforts were not enough to help them hold on.  Residents have felt loss, distrust, and disappointment in this crisis.  However, people individually and collectively have responded to this crisis and have effectively mitigated loss for thousands of Michigan Homeowners.  These actions and efforts do not signify a dying state to me.  This signifies a state that is thriving to meet the needs of its residents.  Michigan is holding on and clinging to every opportunity to move forward as a state.  Michigan is a state I am proud to be a resident of, and this crisis is one I am humbled to be a part of the response to.