Jersey City Hall, Jersey City | Photo courtesy of Expedia
JERSEY CITY – Over 1,600 low-income households who have applied for rent relief and utility assistance have been approved, the Fulop administration has announced. They have met the initial Jersey City COVID-19 Hardship Assistance Program screening and will be notified that they are eligible for $1,500 in hardship relief funds.
According to Carmen Gandulla, Director of the Jersey City Division of Community Development, there were nearly 3,000 applications during phase one of this process.
“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,” she said. “We understand there is still a continuous unmet need, and we hope to help in many areas as possible.”
Mayor Steven M. Fulop said that they have set up a fund to help the most vulnerable as soon as the pandemic hits. He also acknowledged that disproportionately low-income and people of color are most affected by the pandemic.
“This 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,” said Mayor Fulop.
Of the 1,638 qualifying applications, the locations of eligible households are as follows:
Ward A – 19%
Ward B – 20%
Ward C – 17%
Ward D – 12%
Ward E – 5%
Ward F – 27%
The average applicant owed $6,350 in past due rent.
Through grant funds from the City and the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC), the administration’s nonprofit rental relief partners, York Street, Women Rising, United Way, and Puertorriqueños Asociados for Community Organization (PACO), will now begin providing direct case management to families in need. Each partner will work with approximately 400 households identified as eligible for hardship relief funds. These community-based nonprofits will 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 families struggling to make ends meet.
Additionally, the Mayor’s Relief Fund will provide grants to Welcome Home ($25,000) and Church World Service ($50,000) to provide rental and utility assistance to vulnerable immigrants, explicitly focusing on residents who may be ineligible for federal funding.
The grants will be paid directly to the tenant’s landlord or service provider. Eligibility requirements included households that fall below federal income limits, owe rent/utility payments for over three months or fewer since March 2020, as well as additional criteria outlined here.
“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 Vivian Brady-Philips, Vice-Chair of the JCEDC. “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.”
Additionally, the City has commenced its planning efforts for the second round of rental assistance, homeless prevention, and eviction work. The City plans to spend a combined total of $10 million obtained through various grant programs. The United Way will receive $2 million for homeless prevention funded by the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG). In comparison, the Jersey City Housing Authority may assist the Division of Community Development in administering $7.8 million in U.S. Department of Treasury funds. The City will be granting $500,000 in assistance for landlord-tenant and other legal services to prevent eviction, benefits counseling, immigrant rights, and other related services.
Under the second phase of the Jersey City COIVD-19 Hardship Assistance Program, the grant program’s eligibility criteria have been expanded under direction from the U.S. Department of Treasury. Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of rental assistance, plus an additional 3 months. 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 interested in applying for the second round of rental assistance can sign up to receive alerts here.