Smiley, Stanley launch home protection plan

BURTON — Together the former mayors of Flint and Burton announced last week they will introduce a plan to help keep area residents in their homes.

Dubbed the Homeowner Protection Plan, state representatives Charles Smiley (D-Burton) and Woodrow Stanley (D-Flint) said that the plan would “establish a uniform process” for homeowners confronted with property tax foreclosures.

“Homeowners have to be held accountable for paying their taxes, but the process has to be fair and folks deserve a decent chance to make things right before getting kicked out of their home,” said Smiley.

Their plan entails tougher notification requirements from government to struggling homeowners, makes a 30-day notice to government prior to foreclosure obligatory for lenders and strengthens foreclosure protections against delinquent water bills and past due city utility bills.

“More often than not, those homes stay vacant and turn into magnets for arsonists, drug dealers and other criminals,” said Stanley. “So many people are out of work right now that many of them just need a little time to catch up on their taxes.”

As written, the plan also establishes a standardized process by which residents can apply for a property tax exemption if they rely on income at or below the poverty level and develops property tax hardship extensions for people living on an amount that is equal or two times below federal poverty specifications.

Under existing legislation, local governments currently dole out their own caseby case decisions on whether a poverty level homeowner is considered “poor enough” to be unable to pay.

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