Expanded Eligibility for Step Forward Michigan

Catherine McClary, the Washtenaw County Treasurer, announced that the U.S. Department of Treasury has approved expanded guidelines for the Step Forward Michigan program. Step Forward Michigan was funded in 2010 through $498.6 million from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and is administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). Assistance is targeted to help eligible homeowners who are facing difficulties keeping up with mortgage and/or property taxes. Three programs are available:

Loan Rescue—Payment assistance for homeowners who are behind on property taxes, mortgage payments, or condominium association dues.

Unemployment Mortgage Subsidy—Subsidized mortgage payments for homeowners who are unemployed or underemployed.

Mortgage Modification—Permanent modifications for homeowners who have fallen behind with payments, or whose home values have slipped below the mortgage amount.

The Unemployment Mortgage Subsidy has been expanded to consider underemployment and to include self-employed applicants. The Mortgage Modification now considers higher loan-to-value ratios and higher mortgage payment-to-income ratios. Up to $30,000 in assistance is available per household. Funds are provided as a 0% interest loan with no payments required. Loans are forgiven at 20% per year as long as the property remains the homeowner’s primary residence. Interested homeowners are encouraged to start the application process immediately as the funds are expected to end next year. For more information visit www.StepForwardMichigan.org or call (866) 946-7432.

So, Your Teen Is Ready To Drive...Are You Ready?

Tuesday September 25, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Learning how to drive, obtaining a first driver's license, and beginning to drive without adult supervision are important milestones in teens' lives. Parents and caregivers play an important role in encouraging their teen to become safe drivers - from the first driving lesson well into the first months teens are able to drive on their own.

Our expert panel members will share the latest findings in teen driving research, review the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) process, answer questions from parents, and tell parents about the resources and strategies available to help them to optimize the safety of their teen drivers at every step in the GDL process.

Driving in Michigan

It's that time of year to enjoy the many scenic drives of Michigan. Here are a few urban myths and frequently asked questions the State of Michigan has answered:

  • Can you turn left on red onto a one way street from a 2-way street? The answer is yes, unless otherwise prohibited, for both 1-way or 2-way onto a 1-way (the one-way being in the direction of the left turn). It is often reported that you can only go from one-way onto another one-way. However, MCL 257.612 (1)(c)(ii) states "..may make a left turn from a 1-way or 2-way street into a 1-way roadway carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn, unless prohibited by sign, signal, marking, light, or other traffic control device."
  • Riding in a trailer? From the Michigan State Police Urban Myth release: There is nothing in the Michigan Vehicle Code that specifically prohibits riding in a trailer, regardless of the type of hitch or configuration. Two-way communication between driver and occupants is not required. (reckless driving of course still stands)
  • Barefoot Driving? Also allowed. From the same release: "There is nothing in the Michigan Vehicle Code that prohibits barefoot driving. Careless or reckless driving would really be a stretch, as an argument could be made that a barefoot person has more control over the pedals. "
  • Driving with headphones? Allowed, although "A driver could, however, be cited for careless, reckless, or failure to yield to an emergency vehicle if a police officer could show that the headphones interfered with the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle."
  • Open Alcohol in RV's and trailers? Prohibited, as an RV is considered a vehicle and in trailers with passengers are considered the same. "Alcoholic beverages are required to be stored in an inaccessible area if there is no trunk available".

More information on the rules of the road can be found at the Michigan State Police website. Drive safely this summer!

Washtenaw County Older Michiganians Rally

Attend this gathering on Monday, June 1, 10 am - 12 pm for updates on key issues affecting seniors, such as health care options, affordable housing, in-home care, transportation, protection from elder abuse and financial exploitation. Speakers will include Jill Kind from Blueprint for Aging, Terri Blackmore, Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, Chris White, AATA, financial issues with John Crotteau and Josh Ard, and Michigan legislators Sen. Liz Brater and Rep. Pam Byrnes. The Older Michiganians Rally will take place at St. Joseph Senior Health Building, Lower Level, 5361 McCauley Dr., Ypsilanti. Call Amy Smyth at 800-852-7795 with questions. Refreshments will be provided.

Cross the Border with Michigan's New Enhanced Driver's License


Planning a trip to the Stratford Festival or the Shaw Festival? There's an alternative to the U.S. passport now required for border crossings, the Enhanced Driver's License. The EDL eliminates the need to carry multiple ID documents when returning to the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean. The cost is $45, far less than a passport and it arrives in 2 - 3 weeks. Be sure to bring proof of a valid Social Security number and U.S. citizenship in addition to your driver's license to any of the designated Secretary of State offices.

Consumer Alert: Don't Pay to File for Unemployment Benefits


There is only one official site to apply for unemployment benefits in Michigan, the Unemployment Insurance Agency and there is NO charge for applying online. Sadly, some Michiganders are going to private sites that charge for filing as well as an on-going fees. The State of Michigan has issued an Alert on these fee-based companies.

UIA's website is available to accept unemployment claims between 7:00 a.m. Monday through 7:00 p.m. Saturday. In addition, unemployed workers have the option of filing their unemployment benefit claims by phoning UIA's toll-free claims line – 1-866-500-0017.

A New PLUS for Ann Arbor


The Secretary of State Office at 353 North Maple Rd has a new look and new services beginning today, as the branch reopens as a PLUS Office. PLUS offices offer additional services and conveniences, such as payment by Discover credit card at the counter, expanded Wednesday hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., instant titles, the ability to purchase your own driving record on site and Self-Service Stations for tab renewals. To save even more time, mileage and gas, renew your license plates online.

Rating Michigan Bridges


The Michigan Department of Transportation has a new website that provides Safety Reports on 4,402 state highway bridges. Bridge reports are available by route number and/or county are current through August 15, 2007. The website only includes bridges 20 feet or more and does not include pedestrian and locally-owned bridges. Locally, the Washtenaw County Road Commission has instituted new weight restrictions for bridges.

State of the State Address


Governor Jennifer M. Granholm's State of the State Address laid our her vision for Michigan in her 2nd and final term of office. Granholm cited the Emergency Financial Advisory Panel Report as a starting point for legislation and initiatives to solve Michigan's budget crisis. The Executive Budget will be released on Thursday, Feb. 8th.

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