Southfield, Michigan (WXYZ) - When Kim Lyons got a notice in the mail from the Oakland County Treasurer saying she owed more than $20,000 in back taxes she knew she couldn't afford to pay the debt.
The mother to three couldn't find a job, and was living on about $1,000 a month.
"I was pretty scared about it," said Lyons. "I didn't know what I would do with 3 kids. I had my car."
At that time the Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner was the last person she wanted to welcome to her house. She thought the county was going to foreclose on her home.
This week she welcomed him and his staff member Christy Donaldson to her home to talk about how they helped her stay in her home. She wanted to share her story to inspire others to get help.
Lyons says she applied to help though the "Step Forward Michigan Loan Rescue Program for Property Tax Assistance at www.stepforwardmichigan.org . It is a website set up where people in Michigan can apply for help getting federal assistance paying their tax and mortgage debt if they can't afford to pay their home's back taxes due to a hardship.
She was turned down for help.
Then she called the Oakland County Treasurer's Office. They helped her get in touch with a certified housing counselor and correctly fill out the application.
The program benefits not only families that don't lose their homes, but the county. The program pays the money owed in back taxes straight to the treasurer's office.
With the help of the treasurer's office Lyons was approved for more than $20,000 in assistance.
"You gave me peace of mind," said Lyons to the people who helped her.
Treasurer Andy Meisner says too many people are losing their homes because the application process is confusing. He says if you need help applying, you can contact his office at 248-858-0624 or learn more at his website.
He also has created a "cheat sheet" to explain how to fill out the application on-line. You can find it by clicking here .