Jersey City launches assistance program to help some residents pay rent, utilities during pandemic
Rental relief is on the way to some vulnerable Jersey City residents via the city’s COVID-19 Hardship Assistance Program.
The program launches on Wednesday and is expected to help thousands who have fallen on hard times. Officials say that the goal is to keep families struggling because of the pandemic in their homes for as long as possible.
As a full-time caregiver to her middle daughter Kamila - and two other kids at home - Ruth Vera is unable to work. With her husband back in his native Guatemala, she says that making ends meet during the pandemic has been nearly impossible.
“Really, really hard. Especially when you have a special needs child at home. It’s hard to get by with three kids,” Vera says.
Afraid of what could happen, Vera says that she is planning to apply for emergency financial aid through the assistance program.
“That little extra money will help me cover a lot of bills,” she says.
Mayor Steven Fulop says the city is working with local nonprofits to administer the program and distribute more than $2.5 million to help thousands of financially strapped families.
“We know a lot of people are struggling and we are trying to hold off eviction proceedings – is the ultimate goal,” Fulop says.
Those eligible for the program can receive up to $1,500 to cover rent or utilities. While it is not a lot of money, it will be enough to keep some from having to choose between paying for rent or putting food on the table.
“We wanted to figure out a way to be helpful and help those residents stay in their homes. It won’t be the ultimate answer, but every dollar counts in this environment,” Fulop says. “We feel like at the local level we can do something to supplement what’s going on at the federal and state level.
The money will be sent directly to an applicant’s landlord or utility company.
The website that goes live on Wednesday will have more information about eligibility. Applications will be accepted through the end of January and the first checks will be going out in early February.