(Camden, NJ) – The Camden County Board of County Commissioners is launching a new round of support for low income renters at risk of losing their homes or facing an eviction threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As society starts to reopen eviction and utility moratoriums are coming to end and renters will no longer have the protections that have kept them housed during the pandemic.
The Board is now officially accepting applications from eligible renters facing financial hardship due to the pandemic. In total, the Board expects to award approximately $15 million in assistance, using funds which were designated for the county as part of Congress’ December COVID relief legislation. The Board of Commissioners previously awarded more than $4 million in rental assistance to county residents during the fall of 2020 using funds from the CARES Act.
The Camden County RECOVERS Rental Assistance Grant makes available up to 12 months of back rent (dating back to March 13, 2020). Utilities which are included in rent will be treated as rent, and internet services may be considered an eligible utility if it can be demonstrated that those services were necessary for work or schooling. While tenants will apply to take part in the program, payments will be made directly to landlords.
“For months, out of work residents watched their rent bills pile up, knowing that the only thing standing between their family and homelessness was the eviction mortarium put in place by Governor Murphy,” said County Commissioner Al Dyer. “That moratorium is set to end in the coming weeks, but many of these families haven’t returned to work, or haven’t been able to recuperate the income they lost while keeping up with other immediate expenses. This program is a lifeline to those who are still facing the ramifications of a global pandemic that shook every pillar of our economy.”
In order to qualify for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, applications must meet all three of the following conditions:
- Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability (i.e. past due notice, rent notice, or eviction notice).
- Has a household income at or below 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI).
- Preference will be given to households with income below 50 percent AMI.
Additionally, the program will have the following requirements:
- There must be no duplication of funds.
- The amount of rent to be reimbursed per month will be capped at Camden County’s Fair Market Rent (FMR) Limits.
- Payments will be sent directly to landlord or utility company.
- A preference will be given to households with one or more individuals that have not been employed for more than 90 days.
- Landlords must agree to waive late fees and penalties.
Congressman Donald Norcross addressed the need for a second round of assistance with so many families still facing housing insecurity.
“The December coronavirus relief bill delivered critical federal resources to local governments, and I applaud Camden County for creating a second rental assistance program to help residents struggling to make payments,” Norcross said. “This new program builds on the one developed with CARES Act funding and will provide vital assistance to renters who may be facing eviction and need our support during the ongoing pandemic and economic crisis.”
Camden City Mayor Vic Carstarphen highlighted the need for another round of assistance in his city, where many households were already struggling to meet their monthly expenses.
“This rental assistance program has come at the right time and I applaud our Camden County Commissioners for their partnership,” Carstarphen said. “As I indicated last week in my First 100 Day Plan, I am committed to assisting and supporting those who are facing housing instability. Many households struggle just to meet monthly expenses. The pandemic compounded the problem as many suffered a loss of income or even found themselves unemployed. This rental program is not simply providing a boost to renters, it is providing a safety net for the vulnerable living within our community.”
David Brogan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Apartment Association, thanked the Board of Commissioners for their continued support of renters during the pandemic.
“NJAA would like to thank the Camden County Board of Commissioners for their commitment to the community in launching this much needed rental assistance program,” Brogan said. “For those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, residents who would otherwise risk homelessness, will no longer have to fear displacement or housing insecurity. NJAA would like to thank the Camden County Board of Commissioners for their leadership on this issue and we stand ready to assist in any way possible.”
Ray Lamboy, President and CEO of the Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA) noted the importance of landlords and tenants working collaboratively to end this crisis.
“With more than 4,000 families across the county facing eviction and the City of Camden being home to many of them, we are heading for an eviction cliff that could disrupt the progress made over the past five years,” Lamboy said. “It is critical for our landlords and tenants to work together to access these funds to hedge off evictions. I applaud the foresight of our elected officials, Congressman Norcross and our County Commissioners for ensuring these funds are available for a second round.”
Vanessa Velez is a Camden City resident that was a rent grant recipient in 2020 and was able to use the funds towards six months of back rent on her Whitman Park apartment.
“The rent grant program was a true blessing and a lifeline for me and my children last year,” Velez said. “It gave me the flexibility I needed to get back on my feet and allowed me to keep my family safe in uncertain times.”
More information regarding this program, how to apply, and additional eligibility requirements is available by visiting camdencounty.com.
Applications for the program will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, and will be accepted until all available funds have been awarded. To apply, visit www.camdenrentgrant.com or call (856) 389-6704 for assistance.