Trenton, NJ – The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) today began accepting applications for the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) to help homeowners in the state’s major home rebuilding programs pay for temporary housing while their primary residences are undergoing repair or elevation.
Eligible homeowners in the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program (RREM) and the LMI Homeowners Rebuilding Program (LMI Program) who have signed a grant agreement and are displaced due to the construction, rehabilitation or elevation of their home may be eligible for up to $825 per month for up to three months of rental assistance, and may receive up to three months of additional rental assistance if an extension is necessary and provided program funds are still available.
The program application form is available online at www.njhousing.gov/homeownership/owners/ssbg. Applicants who do not have access to computer resources can contact 1-800-NJHOUSE for assistance. Funds for the program are limited and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to approved applicants.
“Rebuilding, repairing or elevating a home puts a significant strain on families who are already shouldering a great financial burden,” said HMFA Executive Director Anthony L. Marchetta. “If paying a mortgage and rental payment during this process creates a hardship, the Rental Assistance Program may be able to help.”
The HMFA, which is administering the program, estimates that the Rental Assistance Program will be able to assist approximately 1,750 Sandy-impacted homeowners, assuming maximum assistance of $4,950 per household for the full six months. Rental Assistance Program funds will be available until funding is exhausted, but all of the money must be expended by September 30, 2015. The State has a request pending with the federal Office of Management and Budget for an extension of that deadline.
The program is funded with $9.5 million in federal Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) funds appropriated under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 and made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS will transfer these funds to the HMFA for administration.
Of the $9.5 million, approximately $7.6 million is initially reserved for RREM applicants and approximately $1.2 million is reserved for LMI Program applicants.
This program supplements the more than $285 million in recovery funding the State already has provided under the Resettlement Program and SHRAP to storm-impacted individuals to assist with non-construction related storm costs, in addition to initial funding provided under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program.
The rental assistance is for eligible storm-affected homeowners with signed grant agreements in the RREM Program or the LMI Program, all of whom are residents of the nine counties most impacted by Superstorm Sandy as determined by the federal government. While there is no income restriction for participation, there are other eligibility criteria, which are dictated by federal regulation.
For example, there must be an outstanding mortgage on the primary residence undergoing repair. Participants must provide proof of their current mortgage payment. Applicants must not have completed construction, rehabilitation and elevation of their primary home. Also, all participants must have an executed lease for a rental property in New Jersey during the time of their primary residence’s construction/rehabilitation/elevation and their landlord must be willing to participate in the program. Additionally, participants cannot receive concurrent rental assistance from other governmental or charitable programs or from insurance proceeds in excess of total housing rent payments.
Any rental assistance received through this program is paid to the rental property owner, not to the homeowner, as required by federal regulations. The Rental Assistance Program is not retroactive. RAP funds are only available to assist with rent going forward and may not be used as a reimbursement for previously paid or incurred rent.
Additional information including a program overview and frequently asked questions is available at www.njhousing.gov/homeownership/owners/ssbg on the HMFA website.