MORRIS COUNTY – Morris County has announced that federal rent assistance remains available to qualified families and can help landlords, as New Jersey Legal Services has further warned tenants not to ignore court notices related to the settlement of eviction actions.
The announcements come as New Jersey’s COVID-19 moratorium on residential evictions prepares to end in January.
The Morris County Social Services Department received more than $ 14.6 million in rent assistance to disperse among qualified families. Help can help homeowners as well as qualified families.
At the same time, New Jersey Legal Services is warning tenants not to ignore notices of mandatory settlement conferences if their landlords have already filed eviction notices. (read more below)
“Housing assistance funds are still available in Morris County and the State of New Jersey for people from low- and moderate-income households who have experienced a substantial reduction in their income, have been eligible for benefits. unemployment benefits, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship with the COVID-19 pandemic, ”said Kasey Errico, director of social services for Morris County.
As of last week, 1,541 requests have been submitted, 513 requests have been approved to date and households have received more than $ 4 million in assistance.
Morris County urges tenants to determine if they qualify and apply.
Renters can learn about the program by simply checking the criteria provided by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) COVID-19 Information website. Some of the qualifications are also listed below.
Apply Click here.
Federal Emergency Rent Assistance funding is designed to help avoid a housing crisis for tenants who are in critical need of such support. The funding will also provide much needed relief to homeowners, who have also been challenged by the financial impacts of the pandemic, according to Errico.
Morris County has partnered with DCA, like other counties, to use the state’s program provider and eliminate confusion for those in need by using an online portal to access the application for ‘assistance.
KNOW THE EXVICTION ACTIONS AND YOUR RIGHTS
While Governor Phil Murphy’s pandemic eviction moratorium does not expire until January 2022, it does not prevent homeowners from filing eviction lawsuits before that date – and New Jersey courts. can call tenants for “mandatory settlement conferences” well in advance of the eviction moratorium deadline.
Conferences are only designed to determine whether an eviction case can be settled without a trial and do not force any tenant or landlord to make a deal.
But appearances are mandatory.
“If you do not appear, a default judgment will be pronounced against you, which means you will lose the case,” Legal Services warned in a new leaflet.
The agency also informed the tenants that they did not have to agree to settle the matter, but that they were simply showing up to the conference.
“You don’t have to agree to pay money. You don’t have to agree to move. Landlords and tenants who do not reach a deal will have a trial scheduled when the court begins to hold trials, ”Legal Services said.
New Jersey Legal Services has a hotline and web application for families facing eviction to determine if they are entitled to free legal advice:
Call (908) 231-0840 or apply online by clicking here.
LEARN MORE ABOUT RENTAL ASSITANCE
The generic name for the federal rental assistance program is the COVID-19 Phase II Emergency Rental Assistance Program or CVERAP PHASE II. The first phase was launched in July 2020, using $ 91.75 million in federal funds, which helped approximately 15,000 New Jersey residents. New Jersey received $ 353 million for the second phase.
The program covers two areas:
Emergency Rent Assistance for Arrears: Applicants may be eligible for up to twelve months of Emergency Rent Assistance to help pay arrears and future rent to the extent funds are available. Families who have already received funding under Phase I of the program, need additional rent assistance, and have not yet received the maximum of twelve months of emergency rent assistance can request additional funding.
Emergency rent assistance for current and future rents: Financial assistance is limited to three months depending on the request submitted, except that the household may receive additional assistance for additional months subject to the availability of remaining funds and eligibility, not exceeding 12 months (plus an additional three months if necessary to ensure housing stability).
Individuals applying must meet all applicable income and eligibility criteria. You must be eighteen (18) years of age or older to apply or be an emancipated minor. Only one (1) request per household will be accepted. Nominations will be accepted until sufficient nominations have been received to ensure the distribution of all available funds. A computerized selection process (lottery) will be used to select residents who have been affected by COVID-19 for the determination of eligibility.
Eligibility criteria: Selected households must meet the following eligibility criteria to be eligible for aid:
- Be eligible for unemployment or have suffered a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Demonstrate a risk of homelessness or housing instability;
- Have a household income equal to or less than 80 percent of the region’s median income (please see income limits below);
- Having a lack of assets and savings to pay rent arrears or current and future rents;
- Be a resident of New Jersey; and
- Obligation to pay rent on residential accommodation.
The program will only pay rent arrears incurred after March 13, 2020.
Property managers or owners of residential accommodation can seek assistance on behalf of a tenant.
The owner must:
- Obtain the tenant’s signature on the request, which can be documented electronically; and
- Must provide the request documentation to the tenant to inform the tenant that the request has been submitted.