In December 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, a tax, funding and spending bill containing almost $900 billion in coronavirus aid was passed by Congress and signed into law.  The package includes $25 billion in provisions to assist renters and rental property owners.  These funds will be distributed to states and localities to administer. The following are the provisions and their related details:

Financial Help for Renters

Eligible renters can receive assistance with rent and utility payments, including those that have accumulated from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and other housing expenses that relate directly or indirectly to the pandemic.  They also would have access to services, such as tenant-landlord mediation, which would help them remain in their homes.  Households may receive up to twelve months’ assistance with the potential for an additional three months’ assistance if funds are still available and the additional funds are needed to remain in the home.

Eligible households are defined as follows:

  • Household income does not exceed 80% of the area median income (AMI)
  • One or more household members can demonstrate a risk of homelessness or housing instability
  • One or more household members qualify for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic.
  • Households with incomes that do not exceed 50% of AMI as well as renters who are currently unemployed and have been unemployed for 90 days or longer will be given priority.

Options for Rental Property Owners

Property owners can assist tenants in applying for rental assistance or apply on behalf of the tenant.  The property owner will need to notify the tenant regarding the assistance and obtain their consent on the application.  Otherwise, tenants can apply for assistance with the state or local grantees selected to administer the program and the administrative entity would send the payment directly to the landlord, or if the landlord prefers, the payment can be made directly to the tenant who can then pay the landlord.

How to Apply

Renters should contact local housing groups, their representatives, or the local 211 lines for details on the programs and how to apply when the Federal funding is made available by NJ.

Melissa Marsicano

Author Melissa Marsicano

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