DCA Surpasses Milestone of Disbursing More Than $300 Million in Federal Emergency Rental Assistance
- Posted on: 09/30/2021
New Jersey Has First-in-the-Nation Program; U.S Treasury Commends State for Its Successful Efforts to Distribute Assistance
TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today announced that it has reached the milestone of disbursing more than $300 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds throughout the state. More than $302 million in rental relief has been distributed to more than 33,000 households to date by DCA’s Division of Housing and Community Resources.
On a monthly basis, U.S. Treasury tracks how much of the first tranche of ERAP funds has been expended by state and local governments. In terms of percentage of funds spent, New Jersey is currently first in the nation among state-administered ERAP programs, according to U.S. Treasury’s most recent report. In August alone, DCA obligated and disbursed more than $144 million to more than 15,000 households. By the end of August, DCA had distributed 78 percent of its allocation of ERA1 funds.
“One of the most visible impacts that COVID-19 has had in New Jersey is on residents’ ability to pay their rent due to financial hardships associated with the pandemic. This is why DCA has put so many resources into effectively administering our COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “While we appreciate being recognized by U.S. Treasury as a top-performing program, we understand that accolades don’t mean anything to families who fear losing their home because they can’t pay the rent. Therefore, DCA will continue to focus on getting rental assistance out as quickly as possible to people in need.”
In a report issued by U.S. Treasury last week, DCA was highlighted and commended for adopting Treasury’s flexibilities on applicant self-attestation of income and need, while also standing up a strong eviction diversion program infrastructure, including incorporating the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program into New Jersey’s eviction court system. The Department was also complimented for the outreach it is doing to make eligible households aware of emergency rental assistance and to encourage them to apply. For example, DCA has conducted door-to-door canvassing in low-income areas and attended vaccine outreach events to promote the emergency rental assistance.
Among the people helped is Yolandita Rivera, who may have lost her home without the relief she received through the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
“I received an email from your office so that I could apply [for rental assistance]. I went in immediately and applied. My landlord had also informed me that he saw something on our mayor's social media about it and that he applied also on my behalf,” Ms. Rivera said. “I really appreciate it and am humbled that he would do that for me. These are definitely humbling times and times of thanksgiving to everyone that is trying to help us through these difficult times."
DCA urges people who have had difficulty paying their rent to apply to both the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Eviction Prevention Program, which launched on September 1, 2021 and will provide up to $500 million in rental assistance to tenants who have faced hardship due to the pandemic. While the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program primarily provides assistance with arrears, the Eviction Prevention Program will prioritize future rent.
People can visit https://njdca.onlinepha.com/ to get started. Applications can be submitted online with the use of a personal computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. The application is available in ten languages.
People with questions or who have difficulty accessing the internet should contact DCA’s call center at 609-490-4550 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. The call center is staffed with English and Spanish speakers and has translation services for other languages. Pre-applications may be submitted over the phone by those without internet access.
Landlords may apply for assistance on behalf of a tenant. The landlord must:
· Obtain the signature of the tenant on the application, which may be documented electronically; and
· Must provide documentation of the application to the tenant to notify the tenant that the application has been submitted.
As part of the programs, DCA is encouraging landlords to agree to a reasonable payment plan for any rent arrears and rent not covered by the rental assistance and commit to not filing for eviction for non-payment of rent during the term of the assistance.
In addition to the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Eviction Prevention Program, the State introduced critical eviction protections for renter households that have experienced economic hardships during the pandemic. To find out more about current eviction protections available and how to self-certify for these protections, people can visit https://covid19.nj.gov/renter.
The funding milestone announced today is in addition to the $91.75 million that DCA distributed to 15,000 households in the first phase of the CVERAP program last year.
DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, and disaster recovery and mitigation.
For more information about DCA, visit https://nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media: