Homeowners in this state could get up to $35,000 in stimulus money for mortgage assistance
In a state where housing is particularly expensive, some relief is in store.
- Many landlords are still behind on housing payments due to the financial impact of the pandemic.
- Some New Jersey property owners may be eligible for significant assistance, but there are rules and restrictions applicants should be aware of.
Many people have lost income at various times during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this extends to homeowners across the country. At the start of the epidemic, owners were given the option of suspending their mortgages. Under forbearance, borrowers could suspend their monthly payments without being flagged as delinquent.
But for those who took the forbearance route at the start of the pandemic, that protection has long since run out, having been capped at 18 months. Now homeowners who are still struggling financially could risk losing their homes. This includes owners who are sitting on a decent level of equity.
As property values rise nationwide, homeowners who cannot meet their mortgage payments may have the opportunity to sell their home for enough money to pay off their mortgage and walk away clean. But it still forces these people to abandon their homes. And people in a precarious financial situation may find it difficult to find alternative accommodation.
In some states, namely those with high property taxes, the problem is even more pronounced. One such state is New Jersey, which has the dubious distinction of having the highest property taxes in the country. But now struggling New Jersey homeowners can be in line for some much-needed relief.
Help is on the way in the Garden State
The Rescue Emergency Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program will make up to $35,000 in assistance available to eligible homeowners who have lost the ability to meet housing costs due to loss of income related to COVID. To be eligible, New Jersey residents must demonstrate that their income has declined during the pandemic and that they now have an income no more than 150% of their region’s median income.
There are also other requirements. Homeowners can only apply for housing assistance for a primary residence in New Jersey, and it must be a one- to four-unit property. This means that someone who owns an apartment building and lives in one of its many units will not qualify.
Second homes and investment properties will also not be eligible for aid. The help also only applies to those who were not behind on their mortgages before January 21, 2020.
Those who are eligible for ERMA assistance can get money to cover things like overdue mortgage payments, property taxes and utility bills. Eligible homeowners can also receive funds to cover up to four future mortgage payments.
Those approved could receive up to $35,000 in housing assistance, payable as a three-year forgivable loan. However, there is a catch: each loan will be listed as a lien on the property it is associated with. Homeowners who sell their properties or do not keep them as their primary residence within this time frame will have to repay these loans.
How to register
Landlords who wish to apply for the New Jersey Housing Assistance Program can register through a special portal. During this time, those with questions about the program can email the ERMA team at HAFServicing@njhmfa.gov or call (855) 647-7700 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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