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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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DCA Begins Outreach Effort to Inform Residents of Eviction Protections, Rental Assistance

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By Press Release

TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Nov. 9 announced it has started working with six community-based nonprofit organizations on a statewide comprehensive public outreach campaign aimed at better informing people about resources available to prevent eviction and urging them to self-certify for eviction protection. 
According to a DCA release, the organizations include New Jersey Citizen Action, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, United Community Corporation, Garden State Home, La Casa de Don Pedro, and Community Affairs & Resource Center (CARC).
“The state has critical eviction protections in place for renter households that have experienced hardships during the pandemic, but these protections are not automatic. Households must self-certify to receive them,” stated Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA commissioner. “Therefore, the statewide outreach campaign announced today is aimed at urging people to act now to protect themselves from eviction by completing a self-certification about their household income, submitting it to the state, and giving a copy to their landlord. It is absolutely essential that people do this to be eligible for protection against eviction.”
The six nonprofit organizations working with DCA will use data-driven outreach plans and client engagement services to educate the public and to directly assist households in submitting self-certification forms and applying for emergency rental assistance and utility assistance. These plans will include targeted outreach to people least likely to apply for assistance, such as extremely low-income, non-English speaking, and disabled households; youth; and persons at risk of homelessness. 
The organizations will partner with local agencies to harness hyper-local community knowledge and will gather lived experience feedback for continuous improvement in messaging. Outreach will include peer-to-peer direct assistance via computer tablets; canvassing at community events, local businesses, community centers, libraries, schools, houses of worship, food pantries, and other touch points of community engagement; social media and digital media; printed media; and coordinated outreach with New Jersey Head Start programs and Family Success Centers.
Additionally, the organizations will extend their outreach to landlords to make them aware of the self-certification form and eviction protections and to encourage them to apply for emergency rental assistance directly on behalf of their tenants and with their tenants’ consent. 
The self-certification form asks households for their address, county of residence, the total number of people in their household, and their household income.
Households are protected from eviction for nonpayment of rent, habitual late payment of rent, or failure to accept a rent increase that accrued from March 1, 2020 through Aug. 31, 2021, if they meet the income eligibility requirements and file the self-certification form.
Additionally, tenants who qualify as moderate, low, or very-low income will be protected from eviction for nonpayment of rent, habitual late payment of rent, or failure to accept a rent increase that accrued from March 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021, if they certify their income level; that they suffered hardship due to the Covid pandemic; and that they have applied for emergency rental assistance. In order for households to take advantage of these eviction protections, it is critical they complete and submit the self-certification form.
To find out more about current eviction protections available and how to self-certify for these protections, people can visit covid19.nj.gov/renter
DCA urges people who have had difficulty paying their rent to apply to both the Covid Emergency Rental Assistance Program and the Eviction Prevention Program. People can visit njdca.onlinepha.com to get started and apply to both programs at the same time. Applications can be submitted online with the use of a personal computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. The application is available in 10 languages.
People with questions or who have difficulty accessing the internet should contact DCA’s call center, at 609-490-4550, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. The call center is staffed with English and Spanish speakers and has translation services for other languages. Pre-applications may be submitted over the phone by those without internet access.
DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including energy assistance, housing vouchers, affordable housing production, fire and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery, and mitigation.

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