Since launching in May 2021, the Middlesex County Emergency Rental Assistance Program has distributed more than $11 million in combined assistance for renter households in Middlesex County. This includes more than $10.6 million in rental assistance and nearly $790K in utilities assistance.Millions of dollars are still available for distribution; eligible renters are urged to apply for assistance today. Information can be found atMiddlesexcountynj.gov/rentalassistance.
MCERAP, which is funded through a $24.6 million grant from the federal government, is open to renter households in Middlesex County that meet specific criteria (see below). Funding is distributed on a priority basis, directly to landlords and utility companies. Assistance is limited to a maximum of 12 months of arrears and cannot be provided for rental and/or utility arrears incurred prior to March 2020. Any information regarding changes to or closing of the program will be communicated via the Middlesex County website.
As announced by Governor Phil Murphy in December 2021, the shutoff grace period for all water, municipal electric, and sewer customers will end on March 15, 2022. Per the governor’s extension of Executive Order No. 246, all utilities are required to offer a 12-month, no down payment, interest-free payment plan to customers before disconnecting service or imposing liens for non-payment of past-due bills accrued since the beginning of the public health emergency. Those facing the prospect of having their utilities shut off due to lack of payment should visit nj211.org/utility-assistance-programs for information regarding additional opportunities for financial assistance.
“Since early 2020, we have found ourselves navigating the worst public health crisis in a century – and the resulting economic fallout. Many of our residents, like so many across New Jersey and throughout the country, have seen their housing situations become precarious due to job loss or a reduction in work hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Board of County Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios. “The Middlesex County Emergency Rental Assistance Program’s distribution of more than $11 million in federal funds to help County residents pay their rent and utility bills is just one example of the many ways we have all pulled together over the past two years. I am grateful to the federal government for allocating this much-needed funding. Funds remain available and I encourage anyone who may be eligible to apply for assistance today at middlesexcountynj.gov/rentalassistance.”
“The distribution of more than $11 million in federal aid through the Middlesex County Emergency Rental Assistance Program is truly a milestone,” said County Commissioner Claribel A. Azcona-Barber. “The COVID-19 pandemic left many people out of work and struggling to get by financially. This assistance is helping renters keep a roof over their head and necessary utilities on as they work to regain their financial footing. If you or someone you know is a renter in Middlesex County and struggling financially because of the pandemic, I urge you to apply for financial assistance through this program.”
Households eligible for financial assistance through the MCERAP are renter households in which at least one individual meets the following criteria:
- Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
- Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, mainly documented by having an outstanding rental balance and/or eviction filing
- Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income* (Please note: Eligible households that include an individual who has been unemployed for the 90 days prior to application for assistance, and households with income at or below 50 percent of the area median, will be prioritized for assistance.)
APPLYING FOR ASSISTANCE
Applications for financial assistance from the MCERAP may be submitted by an adult member of an eligible household or by a landlord on behalf of that eligible household. All required information and documentation must be submitted before an application will be considered for funding. Required documentation may include a copy of the rental agreement, tax returns, pay stubs, etc.
Rental assistance provided on behalf of an eligible household should not duplicate any other federally funded rental assistance provided to that household. For households in voucher subsidized units like Section 8, or in Public Housing, assistance may be available for the tenant’s portion of the rent or to pay an outstanding utility balance.
Rental assistance may be provided on behalf of individuals who had a rental unit prior to the pandemic commencing in March 2020, lost the rental unit due to the pandemic, and executed a lease for a new rental unit but are having difficulty paying the first few months of the new lease.
If an eligible household is behind on rent payments, also known as being in arrears, assistance must be provided to reduce or pay off the back rent before that household may be eligible for assistance with future rent payments.
Individuals seeking additional information regarding MCERAP, and those interested in applying for financial assistance, should visitmiddlesexcountynj.gov/rentalassistance.