HOUGHTON - Some Copper Country residents may be eligible for a state program helping homeowners who are behind on their property tax payments.
Step Forward, a program of the Michigan Homeowner Assistance Nonprofit Housing Corporation, launched its loan rescue program in January. The program is the most recent of four MHA programs aimed at assisting homeowners with financial hardships.
To qualify, the homeowner must occupy the property as his or her primary residence. They must also have an involuntary hardship that caused them to miss payments, such as poverty, a medical condition or unemployment.
People meeting those standards may be eligible if they can now sustain the payments.
The maximum a household can get is $30,000, which is provided at 0 percent interest. Twenty percent of the loan is forgiven each year as long as the homeowner continues to make the home their primary residence.
The funds are paid directly to the county treasurer or mortgage lender.
"This is a one-time offer," said Houghton County Treasurer Kathleen Beattie. "It is not coming around next year. if you think you need help, you need to apply."
Baraga, Houghton and Ontonagon counties are among the participating counties in the state.
Michigan received $498.6 million in 2010 for the Hardest Hit Fund program. That total is now down to $200 million, Beattie said.
As of two weeks ago, seven people had applied in Houghton County. So far, Beattie knows of three who are on the approval track.
Ontonagon County recently signed up for the program, but no residents have filed yet, said Treasurer Diana Killoran. Baraga County Treasurer Anne Koski said she was not aware of any county residents who had filed yet.
Beattie said she had sent out letters to people in the foreclosure list in Houghton County Monday notifying them of the program.
"(The state's) going to make those final decisions, but it doesn't hurt to apply, and the sooner, the better," she said.
To apply, homeowners must complete the Hardest Hit Funds application, which can be found online at stepforwardmichigan.org. They must then submit the printed application along with the attached property tax assistance form along with their most recent summer and winter property tax bills.
"I'll fax it in for anybody," Beattie said. "I think that's the least the county can do to get somebody to pay their taxes."