Housing advisor available weekly to offer free counseling to Cass County residents

Published 2:45 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

CASSOPOLIS — Late last Thursday morning, a group of people sat around a computer in the Cass County Treasurer’s Office, chatting happily as they worked. Among them, a Cass County resident repeatedly thanked those around her as they helped her apply for housing assistance. 

Similarly, Cass County residents in need of advice, financial aid or other housing-related information will have the opportunity to visit with a counselor free of charge each Thursday, thanks to a new partnership with Telamon Corporation. 

The nonprofit organization offers support to people with a wide range of housing needs. Services include financial coaching, mortgage and foreclosure assistance, transitional and supportive housing, and homeownership counseling and education. 

“Basically, anything that ties back to your home, whether it be rented or owned, we can assist with that,” said Sara Arnold, a housing program coordinator with Telamon. “If they are in need of connections to different resources within the county, we can help with that as well.”

Arnold said Telamon can help people connect with lenders, offer advice for first-time homeowners, find resources for financial assistance, and provide tips for successful renting, among many other topics. 

Telamon partners with several businesses and organizations to provide programming and support to the people it serves. 

“For example, we actually partner with Mercantile Bank, so we do some financial literacy workshops with them,” Arnold said, adding that programs include topics such as budgeting and saving and obtaining a mortgage.

Jon Martin, a housing advisor with Telamon, will work out of the Veteran’s Affairs Office, Room 112, on the first floor of the Cass County Administration Building, 120 N. Broadway St., Cassopolis, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Thursday throughout winter. Those in need of assistance may call Jon at (269) 390-1001 to set up an appointment. 

“Our partnership with Telamon allows us to work together more efficiently and ensure that the services and resources they provide are available right here at the County Building,” said Cass County Administrator Matthew Newton. “This will make it easier for residents to connect with and, ultimately, utilize the services they offer through being able to meet face-to-face with someone who will help. The in-person connection can be such a critical component and we are excited to be able to facilitate that.”

Newton said he hopes Telamon’s office hours result in more fruitful connections than patrons may receive by simply calling one of the organization’s counselors. 

“For me, if we give someone a phone number to call, we might see a few folks take advantage. But, if we can work together to provide a direct route to meet with someone face-to-face, more people are likely to go that route,” he said. “And anything we can do to try to help those residents that need these services be able to access it more effectively is a win.”

Cass County Treasurer Hope Anderson said the Telamon partnership offers another layer support for the work already being done in Cass County.   

“My office works hard to prevent foreclosures in our County, but this partnership is more than foreclosure prevention,” she said. “Telamon will be a great resource for homeowners, renters and those who want to become homeowners and renters.”

Cass County’s partnership with Telamon began last year when the state of Michigan and federal government created the Homeowner Assistance Fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan’s program, MI-HAF, assists with:

  • Delinquent mortgage/housing expenses, such as monthly payments, escrow shortages, and corporate advances
  • Up to three consecutive, monthly mortgage payments if under maximum assistance amount
  • Delinquent land contract payments, mobile home consumer loan payments or contracted park lot payments
  • Property taxes
  • Condominium/homeowners’ association fees
  • Homeowner’s insurances, hazard, flood, or mortgage insurance
  • Utilities, gas, electric, water, sewer
  • Internet broadband services

Telamon’s HUD-certified housing advisors help Cass County residents apply for assistance through the MI-HAF program. Those in need of assistance may contact MI-HAF Customer Service at 844-756-4423 or a Cass County housing counseling agent at (269) 459-2300 ext. 2, or housingmi@telamon.org.

In addition to counseling for MI-HAF and other housing related needs, Arnold said Telamon plans to host workshops.

“We’d love to find out what people are interested in and tailor it to that,” she said. 

For more information on Telamon’s programs, visit telamon.org and click “Michigan.”