TRENTON, NJ -- Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver joined the governor and other officials at the daily COVID-19 press conference on Fri., May 29. Donning her hat as the head of New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs, Oliver introduced the implementation of a temporary rental assistance program.

According to Gov. Phil Murphy, the state plans to apply at least $100M to begin the short-term rental assistance program. The funding primarily comes from money received from 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, but they're finding themselves in a situation where they aren't able to make rent on the first of the month.”

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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.

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 up in July of 2020, and it will 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 80 percent of the area median income within their county.”

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

“The DCA is 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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