The End to Step Forward Michigan

Written by Chad Coffman, Project Lead Michigan Hardest Hit Fund

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 9.56.44 AM

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s (MSHDA) foreclosure prevention program “Step Forward Michigan” is closing its website to new applications December 31, 2015.  

  • December 31, 2015 – Last day to register a new Step Forward Michigan loan application.
  • January 31, 2016 – Last day to submit applications to Step Forward Michigan staff.
  • March 31, 2016 – Last day for homeowners to return executed loan closing documents.

A Look Back at Michigan’s Hardest Hit Fund Program, Step Forward Michigan by Project Lead Chad Coffman.

Michigan was the first state to provide homeowner assistance through its Hardest Hit Fund program, initially called “Help For Hardest Hit (H4HH)”. The H4HH program included mortgage assistance for unemployed homeowners and homeowners that had fallen behind on their mortgage.

  • In 2011, Michigan’s program was redesigned and rebranded as “Step Forward Michigan” in order to reach a greater number of households and broaden the lender participation in the program.

Participation by mortgage lenders grew from 24 to over 320. Now, the program also includes over 50 condo associations and 80 county treasurers. See the Participating Partner List posted on the program website.

  • In 2012, the Step Forward Michigan program significantly increased the per household program assistance to $30,000 and expanded the program to assist homeowners with negative equity.

In one year the program more than tripled the number of households assisted to date through a statewide Step Forward Michigan billboard campaign and increased effort to assist those with larger delinquency balances. Michigan’s Hardest Hit Fund quarterly reports are available on MSHDA’s website.

  • In 2013, with the help of statewide County Treasurers, Michigan was the first state to use Hardest Hit Funds to address property tax delinquencies.

By expanding its marketing efforts to include television and web advertisements starring HGTV’s Nicole Curtis and adding property tax assistance, the program reached its highest annual production in 2013 by providing over $70 million in interest free loans.

  • In 2014, the Step Forward Michigan program surpassed the milestone of 24,000 unique households assisted and began addressing another issue of the housing crisis by working with several communities to demolish abandoned homes with its Blight Elimination Program.

As the first state to address blight with Hardest Hit Funds, Michigan’s program has helped focus blight elimination efforts to specific neighborhoods within 16 Michigan cities. According to the Genesee County Treasurer, the use of Hardest hit Funds helps “stabilize neighborhoods, reduce crime and create opportunities for new investment”.

  • In 2015, the Michigan’s Hardest Hit Fund Program is quickly approaching over 30,000 families assisted. For several years now, Michigan has retained the second highest number of households assisted among the 18 Hardest Hit Fund states. The program has disbursed over $179 million for mortgage assistance, paid over $74 million toward property taxes and funded $93 million to help blight elimination projects.

More than 170 internal staff and perhaps hundreds of staff from housing counseling agencies, legal aid offices, mortgage lenders, taxing authorities, and others have been involved in responding to the housing crisis through the use of Hardest Hit Funds. Looking back at the impact of the Step Forward Michigan program, this group has created a network of connections and partnerships that is more prepared to respond to future housing issues.

Step Forward Michigan is closing its website to new homeowner applications December 31, 2015.