There Really is No Place Like Home

Imagine you just lost your home.

Where do you go? How do you provide a stable and safe environment for your family? Do you move in with family or friends? How long can you stay there? What if you don’t have those resources or it is simply not an option? What do you do?

chnCommunity Housing Network (CHN) is one of dozens of organizations across Michigan that works to help families facing foreclosure stay in their homes. CHN, together with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), offers free foreclosure prevention counseling, primarily in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

Paul & CJ 1
CJ Felton and then Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps member Paul Stanford. Paul is currently a certified housing counselor.

To better describe what this actually means, between their three offices they have taken over thousands of calls to families unsure where to start, but fearful that they are about to lose everything. And this is just a small portion of the work that CHN does.

Currently there is a package of bills that passed the House and Senate in Michigan and await Governor Snyder’s decision. These bills in part address issues related to the redemption period allowed for those who lost their homes in foreclosure. One of the bills would allow a bank to go in and inspect the property as frequently as they wish during the redemption period.  Should they find any necessary repairs, the homeowner can be immediately evicted, resulting in elimination of their redemption period. There is a lot more detail about what is happening at the Capitol on the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force blog.

That’s a lot of scary stuff, and that is just one set of bills.

Additionally, CEDAM is working to establish a sustainable revenue source for the Michigan Housing and Community Development Trust Fund (MHCDF). This fund helps finance downtown and neighborhood improvements, financing affordable, market-rate and supportive housing for people with disabilities, immigrants and others in need. This fund was funded once in 2008 in a one-time appropriation and last year received a small amount from the foreclosure settlement. However, with a sustainable program in place, organizations like CHN can qualify to utilize these resources in their communities.

There are a lot of details in almost every bill and it is challenging to keep up with it all. Community economic development corporations work to help their communities and build vibrant communities. Good relationships with legislators on both state and local levels can help educate our law-makers into understanding the importance of each decision on the grassroots level.

AdvocacyDay2013-2CEDAM advocates on these issues year-round and establishes policy priorities based on the decisions of the CEDAM member-based Policy CommitteeNonprofit Advocacy Day is a training that takes relevant issues and briefs participants on the facts of the bill as well as the elements of the bill that are relevant organizations doing this type of work. They learn advocacy and lobbying best practices, as well as the differences between the two. CEDAM works to help set up meetings with legislators on that same day to assist in relationship building, providing opportunities to build new and reinforce existing relationships.

(left to right) Galyn Barnum of Housing Resources, Inc; Marylynn Hewitt of CHN; Tiffany Tononi, Urban Neighborhood Initiatives

Marylynn Hewitt from CHN attended CEDAM’s Nonprofit Advocacy Day on June 11 as a way to become more well-versed in the current legislation that is taking place. CHN has a strong history of advocacy and has a diversified programs offering people a chance to an equitable life. CHN has programs that work, and it wouldn’t be possible without dedicated staff, strong programs and the opportunity to work toward their mission in strong partnerships with elected officials, legislators and supporters. The proof is right here. Watch and see.

Advocacy Day, and other training opportunities, are supported by a grant from State Farm. State Farm encourages its employees and all citizens to take an interest in civic and political affairs, to register to vote, and to vote. State Farm encourages employees to be involved in public issues, and to support the parties and candidates of their choice. State Farm’s policy is non-partisanship with respect to parties and candidates.

State Farm 2012 transparent