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Housing help offered; options are available

For Friday, June 26.

MARQUETTE — With June being American Housing Month, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is raising awareness about ways Michiganders can protect their homes through lender programs for those impacted by COVID-19 and through insurance policy reviews to make sure they have the coverage they need before they need it.

“No one facing financial hardship due to this pandemic should lose their home, and DIFS is working hard to provide guidance to affected borrowers during this unprecedented time,” DIFS Director Anita Fox said in a news release. “Homeowners experiencing difficulty paying their mortgage should contact their lender right away to learn what relief options they have available.”

DIFS has compiled information for Michigan homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments in a publication available online. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provides help to those with federally backed mortgages, giving homeowners forbearance options and protection from extra fees or interest.

In addition, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and DIFS launched the MiMortgage Relief Partnership, a cooperative agreement between more than 230 banks, credit unions and mortgage servicers in Michigan to provide mortgage relief to Michigan homeowners experiencing a COVID-19 related financial hardship. Learn more about the MiMortgage Relief Partnership at Michigan.gov/MiMortgageRelief.

Homeowners should also consider reviewing their insurance policies with their agent or insurance company to understand their coverage and any new discounts available, including for recent home improvements or going without a claim for a certain amount of time.

Consumers who need assistance with their insurance or financial services company can also contact DIFS from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442, or file a complaint at Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints.

Residents recovered

Two residents at Medilodge of Munising who tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago while in a skilled nursing facility in lower Michigan have recovered, the Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department announced.

Both tested negative before being transferred to the Munising facility. Out of caution, both were isolated for 14 days upon arrival. Additional testing continues to show the two residents are negative for the coronavirus.

The cases showing up in Michigan’s cumulative long-term care facility data is in error, the LMAS District Health Department said. Alger County resident case numbers remain at two, and are not related to the skilled nursing facility.

Access to Sawyer center limited

The K.I. Sawyer Service Center will continue to limit access to the building, with restrictions in place until at least July 16.

If a visit is necessary, individuals are asked to call ahead at 906-346-3308 to schedule an appointment during the hours of operation. The extension for Duane DuRay, director of operations, is 3138. The extension of Judy Lindberg, for development and marketing, is 3130, while the extension for Julie LeRoy, security assistant, is 3132.

Utility billing will be on duty but not accessible to the public at this time. Payments to the K.I. Sawyer Water Department can be made by check using the drop box on the north side of the parking lot or by mail to 125 G Ave., Gwinn, MI 49841. Other methods including automatic payments, Bill Pay and online at https://pay.govpros.us/mi/mqtco/utility.

Finlandia develops return plan

As Finlandia University prepares for a safe return to face-to-face instruction in the fall, adjustments have been made to the fall 2020 academic calendar with its Safe Open Plan for Fall 2020, the university announced.

Following the Thanksgiving break, which runs Nov. 23-27, the final two weeks of the fall semester — one week of instruction and one week of finals — will be completed online.

The residence hall will close for the fall semester at noon Nov. 21. Plans to accommodate students who need to remain on campus will be in place.

Consumer alert issued

Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a consumer alert on Wednesday to warn Michiganders about misinformation as many turn to social media for help or answers in their continued struggle with applying for and obtaining unemployment benefits.

Nessel encouraged Michiganders to be aware that offers via social media to assist claimants with the benefit process are likely scams, and that the answers provided to unemployment-related questions might contain misinformation that encourages claimants to commit fraud.

“Our state has seen an unprecedented uptick in unemployment claims as a result of COVID-19. Delays in processing have caused a great deal of frustration for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who are simply doing all they can to make ends meet, but I want to urge residents to stay alert when taking to social media for answers or advice,” Nessel said in a news release.

She stressed there is no guarantee that these answers have been vetted or that the individuals promising to help can actually do so. People are urged to not under any circumstance pay a fee or offer up personal information to someone on social media.

If a post is offering to help an individual with any portion of the benefit process for a fee, Nessel said there is no guarantee the person behind the post actually intends to lend help. Personal information also should not be given because this is likely an attempt to steal that information to commit identity theft and obtain the benefits.

Additionally, the information provided on social media has not been vetted and might not be accurate.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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