New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver announced the creation of a $100 million COVID-19 Short-Term Rental Assistance Program on May 29. The program will be funded by CDBG-CV and will offer short-term rental assistance to low- and moderate-income residents who have a substantial reduction in income as a result of the pandemic, including those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network), an NLIHC state partner, has been instrumental in moving the New Jersey legislature and the governor to expand rental assistance, including this program.
“New Jersey has had a housing crisis and deep need for rental assistance even before this pandemic,” said Network President and CEO Staci Berger. “This program is a complement to a legislative proposal from Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake’s (LD-34) and other legislative champions that will provide relief for homeowners and tenants, by creating a compassionate forbearance process and establishing consumer protections. We thank our state leaders for all their efforts to make sure our residents are able to stay in their homes.”
The Network was instrumental in getting policymakers to begin to address rental needs through a short-term rental assistance program. Since March, the Network has been in regular communication with elected officials, sharing what their members have been witnessing in the field. They have convened weekly webinars to update members on how New Jersey residents have been affected by the pandemic. On each webinar, members are encouraged to mobilize and advocate policies that meet the needs of the lowest income residents, including short term rental assistance supported by federal funding.
The COVID-19 Short Term Rental Assistance Program will be administered by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and will start accepting applications July 15. Rental assistance payments will begin by September. Eligible applicants include New Jersey residents who have income of up to 80% of Area Median Income, have been current in rental payments as of March 1, 2020, can provide proof of impact of Covid-19 beginning on March 9, 2020, and were laid off, had work hours reduced, had to take unpaid leave, or needed to self-quarantine for 14 days which resulted in a loss of income.
The program will devote 20 % of the funding to serve those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or very low-income. These households will be selected by DCA through the Coordinated Entry process and will receive up to one year of rental assistance. The remainder of the applicants will be selected through an online lottery. If selected, applicants will be eligible to receive up to six months of short-term rental assistance. DCA will provide payment directly to landlords and will encourage landlords not to evict tenants for past due rent accumulated prior to the start of the rental assistance, nor to evict due to unpaid rent for six months post rental assistance.
Read more about the New Jersey COVID-19 Short-Term Rental Assistance Program at: https://www.nj.gov/dca/news/news/2020/approved/20200529a.html