Rent relief is coming for low-income Jersey City residents

More than 1,600 eligible for assistance

Jersey City approved 1,600 resident applications for rent and utility relief grants to help low-income residents struggling amid the pandemic.
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Jersey City approved 1,600 resident applications for rent and utility relief grants to help low-income residents struggling amid the pandemic.

More than 1,600 low-income households in Jersey City will receive rent relief and utility assistance through the Jersey City COVID-19 Hardship Assistance Program, according to Mayor Steven Fulop and the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation.

According to the city, 95-percent of applicants for the $2.5 million in grant money will be provided to residents in The Heights and southwest sections of the city through local nonprofit partners.

Of the 1,638 applicants, 27 percent lived in Ward F, 20 percent lived in Ward B, 19 Percent lived in Ward A, 17 percent lived in Ward C, 12 percent lived in Ward D, and 5 percent lived in Ward E.

The average applicant owed $6,350 in past due rent.

“It’s well established that those most affected by this pandemic are disproportionately low-income and people of color, which is why we have been working on a municipal level to provide direct aid to our residents facing income loss and eviction, regardless of their immigration status,” Fulop said. “As soon as the pandemic hit, we set up a fund with the intention of helping our most vulnerable, and that’s exactly what we’re able to do here today.”

The city announced the second phase of the Jersey City COIVD-19 Hardship Assistance Program, set to launch this spring.

Thousands apply for relief 

According to Carmen Gandulla, Director of the Jersey City Division of Community Development, almost 3,000 people applied for the Jersey City COIVD-19 Hardship Assistance Program, but only a little more than 1,600 met the criteria.

Households must fall below federal income limits, owe rent/utility payments for more than three months or fewer since March 2020, must have suffered a loss of income because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 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, among other requirements.

“There were nearly 3,000 applications during phase one of this process, and the households that did not meet program criteria included those who did not owe any rent, experienced no income loss, nor reported that they had the resources to pay their rent. The over 1,600 households found eligible are residents who truly need assistance right now to feed their families and prevent eviction,” said Gandulla. “We understand there is still a continuous unmet need, and we hope to help in many areas as possible.”

Nonprofit rental relief partners, including the York Street Project, WomenRising, United Way, and Puertorriqueños Asociados for Community Organization (PACO) will begin providing direct case management to families in need using grant funds from the city and the JCEDC.

Each partner will work with approximately 400 households.

These community-based nonprofits will each receive $500,000 in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds and an additional $125,000 each from the Mayor’s COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide utility and rental assistance for the struggling families.

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, focusing on residents who may be ineligible for federal funding.

The grants will be paid directly to the tenants’ landlord or service provider.

“To enhance the city’s capacity to serve low-income residents, the Mayor’s Fund, which is administered by the EDC, focused on providing additional funding support to ensure that more vulnerable residents could be served, including those who may be ineligible for other programs due to immigration status,” said  Vice-Chair of the JCEDC Vivian Brady-Philips. “By working closely with our nonprofit community-based partners on the ground, we know that this combined rent relief effort will help residents in need identify a broader range of potential resources.”

Round two coming soon

The city has started planning for a second round of rental assistance, homeless prevention, and eviction work.

According to the city, United Way will receive $2 million for homeless prevention funded by an Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG). The Jersey City Housing Authority will assist the Division of Community Development to help administer $7.8 million in U.S. Department of Treasury funds.

The city will grant $500,000 in assistance for landlord-tenant and other legal services, including benefits counseling, immigrant rights, eviction presention, and other related services.

Under the second phase of the Jersey City COVID-19 Hardship Assistance Program, eligible households can receive up to 12 months of rental assistance, plus an additional three months.

According to the city, individuals who applied during the initial application window and were deemed ineligible do not need to apply again. Those applications will be reevaluated, and the applicant will be connected to additional resources.

New applicants applying for the second round of rental assistance can sign up to receive alerts at https://www.cognitoforms.com/CityOfJerseyCity1/rentreliefinquiryform.

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.