- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The federal government has approved Michigan’s $74.5 million plan to help homeowners statewide avoid foreclosure and eliminate blight in Detroit and Flint.

Approval of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s plan by the U.S. Department of Treasury was announced Monday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Michigan is dedicating 75 percent of the money for blight elimination and 25 percent for mortgage assistance. Blight funds will be divided among the state’s two cities with the largest number of blighted structures, with Detroit getting $41.9 million and Flint getting $13.9 million.

“These funds have been critical in helping people stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure while helping Detroit, Flint and other cities across our state eliminate blight and revitalize neighborhoods,” Snyder said in a statement.

The money is from the federal Hardest Hit Fund which was created by the Treasury Department at the height of the housing crisis for the states that had seen the greatest drops in home values. The program’s goal is to find ways to help people facing major drops in the value of their homes avoid foreclosure.

Michigan received $498 million from the Hardest Hit Fund when the program was announced in 2010.

“Although Michigan’s unemployment rate is now below the national average and a great example of our state’s continued success, the importance of these HHF dollars on Michigan’s reinvention cannot be underscored enough,” said Kevin Elsenheimer, Michigan State Housing Development Authority director. “They will be greatly appreciated by the citizens and communities that may still be lagging behind.”

The funding has helped more than 30,000 households with more than $273 million in mortgage assistance to avoid foreclosure. Since the 2013 start of Michigan’s Blight Elimination Program, about 8,500 structures have been torn down with approximately $130 million from the Hardest Hit Fund.

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