Struggling Jersey City renters to receive financial help

City launches COVID-19 Hardship Assistance Program; applications due Feb. 1.

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Jersey City residents struggling to make rent can now seek relief.

Mayor Steven Fulop and the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC) have launched the Jersey City COVID-19 Hardship Assistance Program, which will use $2.5 million from the Mayor’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and Community Development Block Grants to provide residents with up to three months of utility and rent relief.

The city is partnering with four of the largest community-based nonprofit organizations to help administer and oversee the program.

York Street Project, Women Rising, United Way, and Puertorriqueños Asociados for Community Organization (PACO) will each receive $500,000 in CDBG funds and an additional $125,000 from the Mayor’s Relief Fund to address utility and rental assistance for families struggling to make ends meet.

The Mayor’s Relief Fund will provide a $25,000 grant to Welcome Home and a $50,000 grant to Church World Service to provide rental and utility assistance to vulnerable immigrants, specifically focusing on residents who may be ineligible for federal funding.

“Since day one of this pandemic, we have worked to protect our residents from the economic fallout as best we can, and this emergency funding is the latest step to directly protect our residents from eviction and the many other unprecedented challenges the pandemic has caused,” Fulop said. “By leveraging our nonprofits that are already actively engaged with the community, we will maximize our impact to help minimize hardships for our neediest residents, many of whom have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own.”

The Hardship Assistance Program will assist residents with landlord-tenant and other legal services to prevent eviction, benefits counseling, immigrant rights, and other related services.

“This financial aid will mean low-income families won’t have to choose between paying rent and feeding their family or buying necessary medications,” said Vice Chair of the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation Vivian Brady-Philips.  “The JCEDC is working with city and community agencies to design this program, which will provide much-needed aid to residents regardless of immigration status.”

“Studies show the pandemic has impacted low-income and minority families the most, and as the most diverse city in the nation, we’re working to meet the diverse needs that many local families never imagined they’d be facing today,” said Director of the Division of Community Development Carmen Gandulla.

Are you eligible?

The maximum amount of aid per household is $1,500, which will be paid directly to the tenant’s landlord or service provider.

According to the city, in order to qualify residents must live in Jersey City in a rented apartment or house, be 18 years of age or older or an emancipated minor, have a valid and current written lease signed by the landlord/property manager, and owe rent/utility payments for three months or fewer, starting from March 2020.

Residents must also have suffered a loss of income because of the COVID-19 pandemic, not owe any rent or utility payments from before March 2020, and must not have received rental assistance from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program or any other program funded by the CARES Act.

The resident’s current household income must fall below federal income limits.

Applications for the Hardship Assistance Program are available beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 18, through 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1.

To apply, residents must fill out the online application on the city’s website at  jcnj.org/hardshipassistance.

According to the city, the funds will be distributed through a lottery to guarantee equal access. Those selected will be connected to one of the participating nonprofits to help determine next steps, which can include additional support depending on circumstances.

For additional questions or assistance, residents can email incomequaldcd@jcnj.org or contact one of the partner nonprofit organizations.

 For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.