Help is on the way for Union County residents who can’t pay their rent
Union County residents who can't pay their rent or utility bills are getting a helping hand.
The Union County Board of Commissioners is launching a new $16.6 million grant program to help residents unable to pay their rent due to the pandemic. Commissioner Board Chairman Alexander Mirabella said under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, eligible tenants can receive up to 12 months of assistance for unpaid back rent and utility bills and three months of assistance going forward.
He said the goal of this program is to help both landlords and tenants through the end of this pandemic. A lot of the securities are being released from a perspective of safeguards against individuals through COVID. Now is the time to help people, he added.
Recently, there's been 5,400 eviction filings in Union County, according to Mirabella. So the county is taking Federal CARES dollars and appropriating $16.6 million to this fund to help both landlords and tenants.
While funds will be awarded directly to the landlords, Mirabella said both parties must register for the program. Both sides need to agree and be on the same page.
The registration portal for landlords open Monday, July 26 at ucnj.org/rental-assistance. The application portal for tenants will open 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 2. The portals include guidance on assembling the information and documents necessary to apply for funding.
Once the application is submitted, applicants will be notified of the funding decision. If approved, the funds will then be presented to the landlord or utility provider on their behalf.
To qualify for the rental assistance program, Mirabella said the applicants must meet the following criteria:
- The applicant must be a Union County resident primarily responsible for paying rent.
- The applicant must make less than 80% of the average median income of Union County (less than $78,500 for a family of four)
- The applicant must have experienced a loss of income since March 13, 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic
- The applicant must provide required supporting documentation such as copies of identification, tax returns, lease or other proof of income/residence may be acceptable.
The money will allow landlords to be paid up to 12 months in arrears and up to three months moving forward while people can get back to work and get their income stabilized.
Mirabella said he hopes this will bridge the gap and hopefully launch people into more income stabilization and be able to stay in their homes. He said there is a dire need, which the County Commissioner Board has recognized.
"The landlords deserve to get paid. The tenants want to stay in their residences. This is a way to get that program in place so people can stay in that place that they're renting and that they're happy in their neighborhoods," Mirabella said.