On this page:
- NJ State COVID-19 Program for rental assistance (new) started Mar. 22, 2021
- County of Essex will also offer COVID-19 rental assistance (program application details pending as of 3/17/2021)
- Proposed State Legislation to prevent evictions and provide rental assistance
- List of Non-Legal & Legal Resources Related to COVID-19
- COVID-19: RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS and UTILITIES: WHAT TENANTS NEED TO KNOW
- COVID-19: RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS and UTILITIES: WHAT HOMEOWNERS NEED TO KNOW
- Energy/Utility Assistance
NJ State COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program: N.J. Department of Community Affairs: New COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program Phase II (CVERAP Phase II) – opens March 22, 2021. These funds came from the 2020 federal stimulus legislation, signed by President Trump, which allotted $589,011,704 to the State of NJ and local jurisdictions for rental and homeowner assistance. (See https://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/Estimating-the-Distribution-of-Emergency-Rental-Assistance-Funds.pdf) See Star-Ledger article, 03/17/2021 on State roll-out https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2021/03/help-finally-on-the-way-for-nj-renters-as-state-announces-new-353m-relief-fund.html. (A separate pot of assistance funds for this purpose will come soon to the State and local jurisdictions through the recently enacted 2021 American Rescue Act signed by President Biden.)
DCA program opening March 22, 2021. The NJ COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program Phase II (CVERAP Phase II) will provide rental arrears and temporary rental assistance to low- and moderate-income households that have had a substantial reduction in income, have qualified for unemployment benefits, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due, directly, or indirectly, to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nan McKay & Associates has been authorized by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs to assist in the administration of CVERAP Phase II and to communicate with applicants and landlords. Website for DCA, click: https://www.nj.gov/dca/cverap2.shtml . Also, for a simpler description of eligibility requirements, application procedures, deadlines, click the following to see DCA’s “Frequently asked Questions” https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/docs/FAQs_CVERAP.pdf including the roles of residential tenants’ and landlords’ in this process.
Contact: If you have questions, please contact: COVID.Rental.Assistance@dca.nj.gov or call: 609-490-4550.
County of Essex COVID-19 Rental Assistance (program not announced as of 03/17/2021):
The County will be receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in rental assistance from the 2020 federal stimulus legislation signed by President Trump and from the recently enacted 2021 federal American Rescue Act signed by President Biden. As of 03/17/2021, the Essex County Coronavirus Emergency Rental Assistance Program had not announced the details of the roll-out to include the eligibility and application process. You can track when this is finalized at the website of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition: https://nlihc.org/rental-assistance . [Click “Table” and scroll-down to “NJ” and look for “Essex Co.”] Or, phone the Essex County Department of Housing and Community Development or phone: 973-655-0200.
Tenants and the COVID pandemic: State legislation needed to prevent eviction while helping tenants pay their current rent going forward and helping landlords get some of the back rent they lost
In March of 2020, the Governor shut down the economy and stopped courts and landlords from evicting tenants. That moratorium is extended to June 17, 2021 with no assurance that it will be extended. Around 400,000 tenant households will be behind in their rent due to the job losses and other expenses cause by the virus and the economic shut down. (See needs in NJ for affordable rental housing before the COVID-19 pandemic at https://nlihc.org/housing-needs-by-state/new-jersey). The Legislature must pass laws preventing eviction when the moratorium ends by (1) changing the way Courts deal with evictions; (2) helping landlords get a good part of the unpaid back rent they lost; and (3) helping tenants pay their regular rent after the moratorium ends, until the jobs return and they are back on their feet.
Bills that change the way the Courts deal with evictions:
A5242. This bill stops evictions for unpaid back rent that builds up before the moratorium ends. Tenants will still owe the rent, but they can’t be evicted for it. Landlords can still sue and get a money judgment and collect it like other creditors.
S2340/A4034. This bill allows tenants to be taken to court for eviction when the moratorium ends, but it requires landlords to set up repayment agreements. Tenants will have 6 months to pay back each month’s rent they missed, with all back rent due within 30 months. But this bill has been weakened by amendments, and needs to made stronger so that it protects more people than it does now. This is the “People’s Bill”.
S538/A3108. This bill fixes many problems with the eviction process. For instance, it ends the requirement that Tenants “post” all unpaid rent (such as rent they have been holding because of bad conditions) before the Court will hear their case.
S539/A3109. Tenants know that future Landlords may refuse to rent to them if they were ever taking to Court, even if they won or the filing was a mistake. This bill stops that by “sealing the records” for all cases that do not lead to actual eviction, meaning that future Landlords and credit agencies won’t be able to learn about the filing.
S2516/A4270. The bill bars a landlord from rejecting, for lack of creditworthiness, any household with a tenant-based voucher, or any household applying for a dwelling unit in project-based, deeply-subsidized housing complex, as long as the household has an income sufficient to pay its share of the subsidized rent, and has not failed without good reason to do so in the past. The bill establishes additional standards and guidelines for evaluating the creditworthiness of applicants in these categories.
Bills that give Landlords some of the back rent they lost during the moratorium, in order to stop them from evicting their tenants:
(No number yet, as of 3/21/2021). This comprehensive bill to be introduced by Sen. Brian Stack (D-Hudson Co.), drafted by a state-wide Ad Hoc Housing Coalition, takes the best of the bills below and improves them and fully addresses the objectives in points (2) and (3), above. There have been recent negotiations on this concept with landlord representatives as well as with the governor’s staff. It is anticipated that some version of this bill will obtain co-sponsorship in the Senate and Assembly in the weeks ahead.
A4617. Provides landlords with a large part of the back rent they lost, which means the tenants will owe less. But the eviction protections in the bill needs to be made stronger, to make sure that landlord don’t get their unpaid rent but still evict the tenants anyway. (S3022 is a similar bill that we support).
Bills that help Tenants pay rent going forward when the moratorium ends:
S3245/A5143. Provides rental assistance on a sliding scale to Tenants so they can pay their regular rent going forward after the moratorium. Tenants with the lowest incomes will get the most help, while Tenants making more money will still get some help if they need it. This bill expands Homeless Prevention to create a temporary rental assistance program to pay rent going forward for 2-3 years when the economy should be recovered.
(No number yet). This bill changes the way courts deal with tenant and landlord problems. It sets up a program that helps tenants as soon as they start to get behind in their rent. It makes sure that landlords get their money, and that Tenants are not even taken to court for eviction.
This website is good for checking on the status of bills and for who is sponsoring the bill. https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillsByNumber.asp
LIST OF NON-LEGAL & LEGAL RESOURCES RELATED TO COVID-19:
Website at Legal Services of New Jersey on a variety of legal and non-legal assistance resources: https://www.lsnjlaw.org/Health-Care/Coronavirus/Pages/default.aspx . [Including: housing – evictions and foreclosures; consumer, credit and debt issues; family and relationships; jobs and employment; health; discrimination; schools and learning; military and veterans; taxes; Social Security Disability/SSI; Social Security; government aid and services; utilities, etc.] See also, “211 NJ”. https://www.nj211.org/covid-19-housing-assistance?gclid=Cj0KCQjw3duCBhCAARIsAJeFyPVINRFmZq-mG2CVBOKJwZw_uT4jNftuY62IMN_BVDOxvNcmEW29q68aAq9sEALw_wcB . ]
The following links for “what you need to know” are located at the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at https://www.lowenstein.com/pro-bono/covid-19-response/housing [Check there for periodic updates after the dates listed below.]
COVID-19: RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS and UTILITIES: WHAT TENANTS NEED TO KNOW: 3/19/2021 https://www.lowenstein.com/media/6593/residential-evictions-what-tenants-need-to-know-31921.pdf [See also, description of the N.J. DCA rental assistance program above: https://www.nj.gov/dca/cverap2.shtml ]
Residential Evictions and Utilities: What Tenants Need to Know (Spanish) – 2/18/2021 https://www.lowenstein.com/media/6509/residential-evictions-what-tenants-need-to-know-spanish-21821.pdf . [See also, description of the N.J. DCA rental assistance program above: https://www.nj.gov/dca/cverap2.shtml ]
COVID-19: RESIDENTIAL EVICTIONS: WHAT HOMEOWNERS NEED TO KNOW 3/19/2021 https://www.lowenstein.com/media/6594/residential-evictions-what-homeowners-need-to-know-31921.pdf .
Residential Evictions: What Homeowners Need to Know (Spanish) – 2/18/2021 https://www.lowenstein.com/media/6528/residential-evictions-what-homeowners-need-to-know-spanish-21821.pdf
Energy/Utility Assistance: Low-Income renters and homeowner eligible households that are having a difficulty paying their heating and cooling bills can contact this office for financial assistance and help in weatherizing their homes. To apply, click https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/energy.html or call 1-800-510-3102