LANSING, Mich. (7/9/10)--Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Thursday that the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), along with credit unions, banks and nonprofit counseling agencies, would launch a state program to help eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure through the state’s $154.4 million Helping Hardest-Hit Homeowners Fund. Eligible homeowners include those who are receiving unemployment, who have fallen behind in mortgage payments due to a layoff or medical emergency, and who can’t afford their mortgage payments because of reduced income. The Michigan Credit Union League is among several trade associations supporting the initiative. Michigan credit unions serve 4.4 million members, and 235,000 homeowners in the state have a home loan through a credit union. With so many citizens facing tough economic times in Michigan, the Hardest Hit fund offers much-needed relief to help people stay in their homes, according to Michigan league President/CEO David Adams. “As Michigan rebuilds for a new future, one of the biggest challenges we face is keeping families in their homes while the job market recovers,” said Adams. “This partnership between the state, credit unions and banks provides a crucial resource that helps bridge the financial gap for unemployed and underemployed borrowers.” The fund aims to help up to 17,000 homeowners, including 11,000 who are unemployed and struggling to pay their mortgages. MSHDA will accept applications beginning Monday from mortgage loan servicers. Approval of an application is expected to take up to 48 hours upon receipt. MSHDA estimated it could take 12 to 18 months for all the funds to be distributed. The department also will add staff to review and process the completed application packages.