State program helps homeowners faced with temporary hardship

St. Joseph County Treasurer Judie Ratering recently staged a news conference with her Calhoun County peer to promote a program called Step Forward Michigan.

Ratering and Brian Wensauer were joined by Michigan State Housing Development Authority Director Earl Poleski to tout the benefits of the state program.

Ratering said she knows in St. Joseph County, a lot of hard-working homeowners can find themselves suddenly unable to keep up with their property taxes or mortgage payments because of a temporary setback.

The Step Forward Michigan program, she said, can help, thanks to interest-free loans.

Since 2010, the program has helped 137 homeowners in St. Joseph County get more than $1.1 million in assistance. Of that, $1 million has gone to help homeowners get caught up on their mortgage payments, while more than $98,500 has gone to cover property taxes.

Ratering said a few simple questions will help determine whether someone qualifies for loans through Step Forward Michigan. Its website is, and accessible by phone at 866-946-7432.

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