Millions of Dollars Up for Grabs for Michigan Homeowners Behind on Bills

By Kyle Kaminski

June 15, 2023

More than $30 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding is still available for low- and middle-income Michigan homeowners who are behind on their bills. They just need to ask for the cash.

LANSING—Last year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state Housing Development Authority rolled out a program to help homeowners who were struggling to pay their bills amid the pandemic and rising inflation.

This year, there’s a problem: Not enough people are asking for help.

State officials this week confirmed that there’s still $31.6 million waiting to go out to Michigan families in need through the state Homeowner Assistance Fund, which uses cash from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to help homeowners who fall behind on their bills. 

“Retaining homeownership is another key part to all of this,” Dawn Hengesbach, who manages the fund for the state, told Mid-Michigan NOW this week. “It’ll put these families in a better position moving forward—creates that stability, retains that equity—which are all those key components for the statewide housing program and thriving communities.”

Through the state program, eligible households can request up to $25,000 for help paying delinquent mortgages, property taxes, and condominium payments—as well as payment of escrow shortages and past-due utility bills, including gas, water, electric, and internet. 

To be eligible, homeowners must have incomes less than 150% of the area median income, and own and occupy the property as their primary residence. They must have also experienced some financial hardship on or after Jan. 21, 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 22,000 Michigan homeowners have reportedly benefited from the program over the past 16 months. And state officials can turn around the applications in as little as three weeks.

Under federal guidelines, the funds must be spent by 2026—though state officials told The ‘Gander they expect to have the rest of the remaining assistance spent by the end of the year.

“Over the years, we’ve made great strides to keep families in their homes, and this additional financial support will build on our efforts that put Michiganders first,” Whitmer said in a statement announcing the program. “The program offers 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.”

Click here to apply for assistance, or call 844-756-4423 for help submitting an application. 

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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