When the 2014 Michigan state legislative session opened on January 8, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM), an NLIHC State Coalition Partner, was prepared to advocate for its ambitious policy agenda to address Michigan’s housing and community economic development needs. CEDAM is partnering with key stakeholders and state legislators to advance a three-part agenda that covers policies to create vibrant neighborhoods and increase housing and economic security.
Topping CEDAM’s list of priorities is securing a dedicated funding source for the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund (MHCDF), the state’s housing trust fund. The fund received a one-time appropriation in 2008, but the appropriation was cut the following year. In 2012, advocates successfully secured $3.7 million for the MHCDF from the state’s share of the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement between 49 state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice (see Memo, 10/26/12). However, the state has yet to identify a permanent revenue source for the fund.
CEDAM has continued its partnership with State Senator Mark Jansen (R), who championed the legislation to secure the mortgage settlement dollars for MHCDF. CEDAM is working closely with the Housing Trust Project of the Center for Community Change to solidify a funding source for MHCDF. Advocates do not expect relevant legislation to make it through the 2014 legislature, but they hope to make significant progress in creating the framework for a future bill.
Maintaining housing security and preventing foreclosure remains a high priority as well. CEDAM is advocating for stronger foreclosure mitigation laws through bills like HB 5277, which would clarify language in a new law regarding the six month redemption period for mortgagors in foreclosure that allows the mortgagor to stay in the home for up to six months after foreclosure.
Under legislation passed in 2013 that modified the redemption period, home inspections to check for damages can be performed by a third-party at the request of the new owner (the bank) at any time during the six-month redemption period. After a negative inspection, the mortgagor could be evicted from the home. Advocates are concerned that this could lead to various fraudulent scenarios in which the previous owner is prematurely evicted from the home to make the residence available to the new owner, in addition to concerns that the law will increase the amount of vacant homes in neighborhoods. CEDAM is currently negotiating multiple provisions, including requiring the new owner to provide a 72-hour notice before an inspection, narrowing the definitions of what constitutes damages to the property, setting limits on the number of inspections that can take place, and putting in a clear process for a mortgagor who vacate the home before the end of the six month period to notify the new owner.
In 2013, five blight-reduction laws were enacted that regulate who can purchase foreclosed properties and impose penalties on purchasers that do not pay municipal fines created to enforce blight violations. This session, advocates hope to add an additional law that would require those that buy property at tax foreclosure auctions to be screened, and would deny prospective purchasers that have blight citations over the last three years from participation in the auction. CEDAM is also advocating for the passage of several bills to prevent scrap metal theft, an issue that has cost property owners and local businesses thousands of dollars, and has put the safety of residents at risk as man hole covers and traffic signs have been stolen and sold for cash.
“Our policy goals are member-driven and are rooted in how we, collectively, can ensure future prosperity for all in Michigan," said Jessica AcMoody, CEDAM’s policy and program specialist. "Our members are working in neighborhoods across Michigan and know, through first-hand experience, how to best create vibrant, thriving communities.”
For more information, please contact Jessica AcMoody, Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, at firstname.lastname@example.org.