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MSHDA debuts new financial assistance program for homeowners

Millions of homeowners have put their mortgage payments on pause amid the coronavirus crisis. "A lot of people are in distress," says Michael Fratantoni, chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Seth Wenig/AP
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Millions of homeowners have put their mortgage payments on pause amid the coronavirus crisis. "A lot of people are in distress," says Michael Fratantoni, chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund (MIHAF) can help with delinquent mortgage, property tax and/or condominium payments, payment of escrow shortages, and past due utilities payments, including gas, water, electric, and internet or broadband.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority unveiled a new financial assistance fund Monday, dedicating more than $2 million to homeowners hit by the pandemic.

The Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund (MIHAF) uses federal funds from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act to provide help with delinquent mortgage, property tax and/or condominium payments, payment of escrow shortages, and past due utilities payments, including gas, water, electric, and internet or broadband.

The U.S. Treasury allocated a total of $242,812,277 to Michigan for the MIHAF program. Half of the funds have been allocated by the state Legislature, and the remaining approximately $121 million must be approved at a later date.

"Homeowners have not been immune to the pandemic-related financial hardships people across the state have experienced over the past two years,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “With the MIHAF program, however, we can offer homeowners much-needed relief to help them overcome those financial obstacles while also providing a strong degree of housing security – a vital measure that can positively impact every part of our lives.”

When dividing the total program funds with the maximum assistance of $25,000 per household, MSHDA director of homeownership, Mary Townley said MIHAF could help at least 8,300 homeowners. However, she estimates the program will likely serve around 13,000-15,000.

“It’s a lot of money but I do believe that homeowners need to come to use as soon as possible. We will service applicants first come first serve,” she said. "...We don’t want individuals to lose their homes due to a pandemic-related hardship. We’re trying to stop that foreclosure."

To qualify for MIHAF, applicants must have experienced a qualified financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic after January 21, 2020, or had a qualified hardship that began before January 21, 2020, but continued after that date, meet income eligibility requirements, and the property must be owner-occupied.

There's also a maximum income restriction of 150% the area median income. In Kent County, the maximum income for a household of two would be around $96,000.

Townley says her team is working to market this program to areas with the highest rate of delinquencies and government aid.

“We’re trying to stabilize those neighborhoods by assisting homeowners so they can continue to be a homeowner,” She said.

Applications are open online at Michigan.gov/mihaf and via phone at 844-756-4423.

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