(The Center Square) – Democratic congressional representatives want New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to give more federal money to help struggling tenants and landlords.
The state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) says it has already allocated about 60% of the first portion of $353 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds allocated to the state. States must spend 65% of the first allocation of ERAP funds by Sept. 30, a DCA spokesperson said.
The lawmakers say disbursing these funds will help prevent evictions, foreclosures and utility shut-offs. The letter comes after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal eviction moratorium.
“We respectfully urge you to ensure that your self-attestation process provides the maximum flexibility allowed by these new guidelines,” the lawmakers wrote.
“This will allow households on the brink of eviction to qualify for assistance without having to produce extensive documents or undergo a lengthy confirmation process,” they added. “… By ensuring that these bills will be paid, the bulk payments will immediately take some pressure off landlords and utility companies and help to prevent evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs.”
All 10 Democratic U.S. House members of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation signed the letter to Murphy.
“No one should have to live with the stress of possibly losing their home during this public health crisis,” U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., D-N.J., said in a news release.
In an email to The Center Square, DCA spokesperson Lisa Ryan said the agency has disbursed more than $212 million in ERAP funds to more than 23,500 New Jersey households.
“U.S. Treasury tracks the amount expended on a monthly basis and, in terms of percentage of monies spent, New Jersey is currently third in the nation among state programs,” Ryan said. “… We urge people who have had difficulty paying their rent to apply to the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program.”