Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis starting 8 a.m. October 1. The program covers up to six months of back rent, or $4,000 per household. Some restrictions apply.
By Matt Skoufalos | September 29, 2020
Camden County residents who’ve been unable to pay their rent during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have the opportunity to get some assistance starting 8 a.m. Thursday, October 1.
That’s when the county government will begin making available $4 million in federal CARES Act funds for certain tenants who’ve fallen behind.
Although New Jersey has declared a moratorium on rental and homeowner evictions for up to two months until after the pandemic state of emergency has been lifted, that doesn’t address the problem of back rent and fees that can continue to accrue while people are out of work.
According to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), 30,000 eviction cases are already pending in landlord-tenant court in the state, with more expected. Rent in Camden County is higher than the national average, and roughly 33 percent of county residents are renters. Furthermore, according to a report issued in July by Stout Risius Ross, LLC, the impact of the pandemic has been harder on renters of color.
“There has been a crisis slowly building in the halls of rental properties throughout our nation,” Camden County Freeholder-Director Lou Cappelli said Tuesday.
“As renters lose jobs and income, through no fault of their own, they have been faced with growing back rent and related debts,” Cappelli said. “Even with evictions frozen, tenants are still on the hook for their rent payments.”
“Landlords are also suffering through no fault of their own,” he continued. “They have invested in properties and are not receiving the income they expected when they invested in their properties as a result of this COVID-19 problem.”
The Camden County CARES Rental Assistance Grant program will help eligible families cover as much as six months of back rent, up to a maximum of $4,000, for tenants who’ve lost their ability to pay rent during the pandemic.
In order to qualify:
- tenants cannot earn more than 50% of the countywide Average Area Median Income (AMI); limits range from $33,850 for an individual to $56,050 for a family of six
- applicants must show proof of loss or reduction in their employment or income
- rental units or landlords already receiving funding from the New Jersey rental assistance program or the federal Section 8 housing choice voucher program are not eligible
- landlords must agree to waive late fees and penalties accrued from April to September 2020
- tenants must have been leasing their properties before March 1, 2020
Applications will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be accepted until all available funds have been awarded. For more information about the program or its requirements, visit CamdenRentGrant.com.
“Right now, a landlord cannot evict a tenant in New Jersey through December 31, but that doesn’t mean that tenants who can’t pay are paying,” Cappelli said.
“As time accrues, even though people aren’t being evicted, the rent arrearage is increasing because they’ve lost their job, or unemployment benefits have run out, or are not what they thought they would be,” he said.
“We believe this will have an immediate impact.”
Among the other resources available for those facing concerns about keeping up with rent during the pandemic, NJHMFA also reopened and expanded its $15-million Small Landlord Emergency Grant (SLEG) program, which dedicates CARES Act funds for those landlords who’ve missed tenant payments from April through July 2020.
By participating in SLEG, landlords agree to forgive back rent and fees for the amounts they’re reimbursed; further information is available here.
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