TRENTON, NJ - Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, joining Governor Phil Murphy at his daily press briefing Friday, introduced the launch of a temporary rental assistance program. The $100 million program, Murphy said, will be funded mainly through the federal CARES Act.

“We know that many of our residents are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, due to the loss of their jobs or reduced hours,” acknowledged Oliver. “As a result, many of these individuals who have never had to ask for financial help before, are finding themselves in a situation where they aren't able to make rent on the first of the month.”

With many New Jersey households experiencing loss of income due to the pandemic, the rental assistance offers some relief during dire times. Tenants from low- and moderate-income households will be eligible for the program.  The focus will be on providing help to renters who are unemployed and can demonstrate their unemployment is related to the public health emergency.

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The current stay on evictions remains in place, however the target prioritizes those experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless. The COVID-19 Short-Term Rental Assistance Program will provide a portion of the funding to these individuals, with up to twelve months of rental assistance.

Households designated as very low income will come next in line with a percentage of monies designated for them.

“The remainder of the participants will be selected through an online lottery system that will open in July and provide those individuals with up to six months of rental assistance, Oliver shared. “The lottery will provide a preference to households that earn less than eighty percent of the area median income within their county.”

Information concerning the COVID-19 Short-Term Rental Assistance will become available on June 15th.  On that date, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) plans to launch a separate website that will also include details about applying for rental assistance.

“The DCA s also urging households in need to apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program known as LIHEAP. It helps people pay for their utility costs, said Oliver. “It includes cooling, as the summer season is upon us.”

According to Oliver, the LIHEAP program received $29M additional funding as a result of the CARES Act. The Department of Community Affairs offers an anonymous online screening tool that can be found here.

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