Department of Community Affairs Showcases Best Practices in Preventing Eviction and Homelessness

  • Posted on: 10/13/2022

DCA Helps More Than 72,800 Households Avoid Eviction through Rental Assistance and Other Initiatives

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today announced that through the success of its eviction and homelessness prevention programs, DCA has helped more than 72,800 households avoid eviction and homelessness during the pandemic. The Department has administered one of the nation’s top performing Emergency Rental Assistance programs, helped put in place critical eviction prevention tools for pandemic-impacted renter households to use to remain in their homes, and launched innovative eviction and homelessness prevention initiatives that have touched every county in the state.

“DCA staff has done significant work to help people stay in their homes throughout the pandemic. The fact that staff created programs nearly from scratch during the height of the public health emergency and continue to administer the programs with empathy and efficiency speaks volumes about their commitment to the people of New Jersey,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “While there is continued work to be done and households to serve, the State is on a good path to meaningfully address eviction challenges thanks to the solid work done in the last two and a half years. Rest assured that keeping people stably housed will continue to remain a top priority at DCA and in the Murphy Administration.”  

DCA is the state department responsible for administering pandemic-related emergency rental assistance funding from the federal government on behalf of the State. The Department’s efficient administration of the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (known in New Jersey as CVERAP), which provided up to 12 months of rental assistance to households, has made it a top national performer in U.S. Treasury’s regular reports on the program. Because of this good performance, DCA was awarded a significant amount of additional rental assistance funds reallocated from other states and local government entities that were not able to administer those funds. These reallocations brought more than $128.9 million in additional rental assistance funds – the third most in the nation – to New Jersey residents. To date, DCA has provided approximately $683 million in Emergency Rental Assistance funds to more than 68,000 families.

To provide context on the size and scale of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program in New Jersey, DCA operates one of the largest Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher programs in the country, serving approximately 24,000 people and totaling $275 million annually. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program represents the launch and completion of a program approximately three times the size of the Section 8 HCV program in 18 months (launch in March 2021 and completion in September 2022).

In addition to the Emergency Rental Assistance program, DCA administers the $500 million Eviction Prevention Program (EPP), established through P.L.2021, c.188, which was signed by Governor Murphy into law in August of 2021. Through the EPP program, DCA will provide rental assistance on a monthly basis for up to two years to approximately 28,500 households, many of which also received CVERAP assistance.

As part of these two rental assistance programs, DCA has encouraged landlords to agree to a reasonable payment plan for any rent not covered by the rental assistance and to commit to not filing for eviction for non-payment of rent during the term of the assistance.

While applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance program (CVERAP) and Eviction Prevention Program are closed, the State still has critical eviction prevention tools in place for renters who experienced economic hardships during the pandemic. Renter households with income below 120% of their county’s Area Median Income are permanently protected from eviction for nonpayment of rent from March 1, 2020, to August 31, 2021, by completing a self-certification form and also applying in some way for rental assistance through local and/or county government. Depending on the household’s income level and specific circumstances, they may also be eligible for protection from eviction for nonpayment of rent through December 31, 2021. To find out more about current eviction prevention tools available and how to self-certify for protections, people can visit

DCA launched several innovative eviction and homelessness prevention initiatives during the pandemic:

  • The Expanded Access to Counsel and Homelessness Diversion Anti-Eviction Pilot Program is helping low-income households stay in their homes when threatened with or facing eviction. The pilot program operates in three cities – Atlantic City, East Orange, and Trenton – and is providing funding to designated legal services and social services providers in each of the three municipalities to help them defend households against eviction and to divert eviction by way of emergency grants, short-term rental arrears payments, relocation assistance, and other supportive services as necessary and appropriate. To date, the pilot program has assisted 1,022 households.
  • A public outreach partnership with six community-based nonprofit organizations to better inform people about resources available to prevent eviction and urge them to self-certify for eviction protection. 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 outreach initiative is targeting 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 Eviction Diversion Initiative, established through P.L.2021, c.313 signed by the Governor last December and also known as the Rental Assistance Navigation Program, has dispatched a total of 28 resource navigators to every court vicinage in the state to work with tenants and landlords to prevent evictions. Resource navigators are experienced case workers who serve as a resource in tenant-landlord court in every county by assisting tenants with understanding the court process; helping them apply for rental assistance and utility assistance; providing social services support, housing mediation or counseling; guiding them on how to access legal services; and helping with emergencies, including paying for short-term rent arrears and relocation expenses. Plans are underway to expand the number of resource navigators. To date, the Eviction Diversion Initiative has assisted approximately 3,000 to 3,200 households.
  • The Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program is utilizing $38.7 million in federal CARES Act funding to respond to COVID-19 among individuals and families experiencing homelessness and to support additional homeless assistance and homelessness prevention activities to mitigate the effects of COVID. Because of DCA’s efficient administration of the ESG Program, it received an additional $2.2 million in ESG funds that were reallocated to New Jersey from states and localities that didn’t use the funding. These added funds will be used to address homelessness in the state.
  • The Homeless Diversion Initiative is a person-centered homelessness prevention program that employs problem-solving, resources, and case management to quickly resolve housing crises for those at-risk of homelessness and those experiencing homelessness. To date, the program has served 561 households throughout the state. The program is rapidly expanding, with eight additional program sites in Atlantic, Essex, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Salem, and Warren counties to be announced later this fall.

Additionally, P.L.2021, c.188 established an Office of Eviction Prevention in DCA, which is led by Dean Dafis, an attorney with a background in advocacy, constituent outreach, and working with vulnerable communities. DCA also has an Office of Homelessness Prevention; the Department recently named Dr. Michael Callahan as its director. Director Callahan was most recently with Bridges Outreach Inc. where he was director of programs & impact and focused on addressing the needs of unsheltered people in Newark, Summit, and throughout Essex and Union counties. He was also a member of the 2015 team that functionally ended veteran homelessness in the City of Philadelphia.

DCA’s Office of Homelessness Prevention coordinates efforts among federal, state and local agencies and private organizations; evaluates best practices; and analyzes data all with a goal of implementing a statewide homelessness prevention strategy. To achieve this goal, the Office consults with stakeholders, including people who are homeless, to identify the policies and initiatives that have been most successful as well as those that have not.

The Office of Homelessness Prevention plans to launch this fall the Rural Outreach and Engagement Pilot Program, which is designed to enhance the capacity of rural communities in New Jersey to respond to persons experiencing homelessness and those at-risk of homelessness. The pilot program will do this through grants to nonprofit organizations serving rural communities to help with staffing, direct aid to clients, and equipment such as vehicles to transport people to safe places to sleep at night. The goal is to make it much easier for people in rural areas to quickly access homelessness prevention services in their county when they need it.

In addition to all the pandemic-related programs and initiatives, DCA recently accepted 4,000 households to the wait list for the State Rental Assistance Program, which is a decades-long, state-funded program that provides housing vouchers on behalf of very low-income New Jersey residents for decent, safe, and sanitary housing. The Department informed 500 people from that wait list that they can submit full applications to receive housing vouchers.

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, disaster recovery and mitigation, and information privacy.

For more information about DCA, visit or follow the Department on social media: 

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Tammori Petty,
Lisa Ryan
ph#: 609-292-6055