Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Step Forward Michigan program?
The Step Forward Michigan Program, also known as Michigan’s Hardest Hit Fund® loan program, is a federally funded loan program designed to help eligible homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage, condo association fees, and/or property taxes retain ownership of their primary residence. To learn more, visit the About and Do I Qualify? pages of our site.
2. What are the homeowner eligibility requirements for the Step Forward Michigan program?
To qualify for assistance, you must meet all of the following requirements:
- Be a Michigan resident
- Have an ownership interest in the property and be able to sign a new mortgage lien on property
- Occupy the property as your primary residence, presently and at the time of the qualifying involuntary hardship event
- Have experienced a qualifying involuntary hardship (see FAQ #12) that caused the delinquency
- Have income necessary to sustain ongoing mortgage, condo association fees, and/or property tax payments (see FAQ #9 & FAQ #13)
- Have limited cash reserves no greater than $10,000 (see FAQ #10)
You are NOT eligible if you have:
- A conviction within the last 10 years on a financial-related felony, including larceny, theft, fraud, forgery, money laundering and/or tax evasion
3. What are the property eligibility requirements for the Step Forward Michigan program?
Your primary residence must be located in Michigan and can be any of the following types of structures:
- A single-family home
- A single-family condominium (attached or detached)
- A manufactured or mobile home (single or doublewide) on a foundation, permanently affixed and taxed as real estate (a recorded Affidavit of Affixture of Manufactured Home may be requested)
- 1-4 unit residential properties if one unit is occupied as your primary residence
Property CANNOT be:
- Currently listed for sale or have a pending purchase agreement
- A vacation property or second home
- An investment or rental property (except 1-4 unit residential properties as listed above)
- Abandoned, vacant, or condemned property
- A commercial property (zoned commercial)
- A mobile home located on rented land or in a mobile/manufactured home park
- Held in Trust or held in a business name
- An active land contract
- Property already foreclosed
- Secured by a senior lien that is not current or cannot be brought current using program funds
- Secured by a lien that has been charged off
- Delinquent for condominium association fees that cannot be brought current using program funds
4. What are the requirements for the debt(s) being paid by the Step Forward Michigan program?
To qualify, your debt must:
- Be owed to a mortgage servicer, county treasurer, or condo association listed on the Participating Partner list, and partner agrees to receive program payments
- Have an unpaid mortgage principal balance equal to or less than $729,750
- Have a total delinquency less than $30,000
Your debt is NOT eligible if:
- It is a land contract transaction or privately held mortgage
- It is not active or is a charged off debt
- The foreclosure date has already occurred
5. Are Step Forward Michigan loans limited to homeowners who are delinquent?
Yes; the program only provides funds to help homeowners catch up on delinquent mortgage, property taxes, or condo fees.
6. Is there a minimum or maximum delinquency required?
There is no minimum; any amount that is outstanding/past due to a Participating Partner can be considered. The maximum program loan is $30,000.
7. How do I apply for Step Forward Michigan assistance?
First, answer the questions on the Do I Qualify? page to determine if you are eligible to apply. If you are, click APPLY NOW and follow the step-by-step instructions. Once you complete the online application, simply print and follow instructions to submit the application with required supporting documents. If you do not have access to a computer, you may contact our toll-free number at 866-946-7432 for assistance.
8. Can someone help me complete the application?
Yes; any third party may assist with the application; however, the third party cannot charge for this assistance. You must sign the application documents and be available to answer any questions regarding your application. Written approval from you is required before the Program can share, release, or discuss any information about the application with a third party.
9. What documentation is needed to support the program income requirements?
Sufficient documentation must be submitted to show that your monthly housing expense is sustainable (see FAQ #13 for definition of a sustainable monthly payment).
Below is a list of various forms of income and examples of standard documentation that may be used:
- Wages: Recent paystub reflecting employer name, gross earnings, and year to date earnings
- Self Employed Income: Recent federal income tax return and as applicable, the business tax return, and profit/loss statement
- Benefit or Pension Income: Award statement showing amount and frequency, or recent bank statement showing deposits
- Rental Income: Recent federal income tax return and as applicable, the business tax return, current lease agreement, and recent bank statement showing deposits
- Investment Income: Recent investment statements and recent bank statement showing deposits
- Alimony or Child Support: Copy of divorce decree or court order and recent bank statement showing deposits or Friend of the Court (FOC) pay history.
- Supplemental Assistance: Supplemental assistance program award statement, such as food or cash assistance, showing amount and frequency. Food assistance may be considered only if you are also receiving other income.
10. What documentation is needed to support the program asset requirements?
All applicants that sign the application must indicate the balance of any liquid cash reserves that are held in a depository account, such as certificates of deposit, checking, saving, money market, debit, demand deposit, and NOW accounts on the loan application. A recent statement from these accounts listing the financial institution’s name, account number, owner(s) name, current balance, and a 30-day transaction history may be required. Additional supporting documentation or details may also be required to explain any transfers, withdraws, or large transactions shown in the statements provided.
11. What information is needed in the required hardship affidavit?
The hardship affidavit is a statement that clearly describes how a qualifying involuntary hardship reduced gross household income or led to a significant expense that impacted your ability to pay and caused the delinquency. Using dates, amounts, and details of what happened and when it happened are critical to understanding how the involuntary hardship referred to in FAQ #12 caused the delinquency. Additional supporting documentation or details may be required to explain how the qualifying hardship was involuntary and how it directly impacted your ability to maintain mortgage payments, property taxes, or condo fees.
12. What is a “qualifying involuntary hardship”?
A qualifying involuntary hardship is an unexpected event beyond your control that caused the delinquency or has impacted your ability to maintain payments. The date of the hardship event that caused a delinquency must be prior to the onset of the delinquency (see FAQ #11). Below is a list of allowable hardships:
- Medical event
- Job loss or underemployment
- Occupying homeowner’s receipt of Michigan unemployment benefits
- One-time critical out-of-pocket expense, such as household repairs
13. What does the Step Forward Michigan program consider to be a “sustainable” monthly payment?
A Step Forward Michigan loan can only be used if you can sustain your monthly payments after the delinquency is resolved. A sustainable payment is a monthly housing expense that is less than or equal to 45% of your gross household income. Your monthly housing expense = Your monthly mortgage payment + your monthly condo fees (if any) + 1/12 of the annual property tax amount.
14. Can I qualify for more than one program loan?
No; homeowners can only be approved for one program loan. If you have previously received Step Forward Michigan assistance, you cannot reapply.
15. Can Step Forward Michigan help with multiple debts?
Yes; multiple Participating Partners can be paid with Step Forward Michigan funds at the same time, using one loan. For example, the program can assist simultaneously with a mortgage, property taxes, and condominium fees.
16. Can I apply again if I withdrew or never completed my prior application for a Step Forward Michigan loan?
Yes; homeowners that withdrew their prior application may reapply. To reapply, it is necessary to provide up-to-date information on the paper application, sign and date the application before submitting the application to Step Forward Michigan with updated supporting documentation.
17. Can I apply again if my prior application for a Step Forward Michigan loan was declined?
Yes; homeowners that were previously determined to be ineligible may reapply. To reapply, it is necessary to provide up-to-date information on the paper application, sign and date the application and submit the application with update documentation of how the original reason for your denial is no longer applicable.
18. How do I apply for Property Tax Assistance?
You must complete the standard Step Forward Michigan paper loan application and include copies of your recent tax bills showing the amount owed and your parcel number along with all other required documentation listed on the checklist. The program can pay amounts past due on current year taxes if the County Treasurer agrees to accept current year payments.
19. Who is required to sign the application?
All persons who own the property and their spouse, and all persons that have an obligation to pay the debt being considered for Step Forward Michigan assistance are “required applicants” and must jointly apply, sign, and provide required documentation.
20. Why do others have to apply and sign the Step Forward Michigan documents, if I am the only one on the title or responsible for the debt?
Any individuals with an ownership in the property, marital interest in the property, or that have a financial responsibility for the debt being paid are considered to be receiving a financial benefit from the Step Forward Michigan program and must participate in the application process.