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Essex County has announced it will be accepting applications for the 2021 Essex County Emergency Rental Assistance Program beginning on May 13. There is $15.4 million available to be awarded.

Renters and landlords who have been negatively impacted during the coronavirus pandemic and need help to pay rent or utility bills can apply for funding. Online applications are available at portal.neighborlysoftware.com/ERAP-ESSEXCOUNTYNJ/Participant.

Awards will be granted on a first come, first served basis.

“The pandemic created financially challenging and difficult times for individuals and families who experienced a loss of income or loss of employment,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said. “Our Emergency Rental Assistance Program will help eligible residents and families catch up on their rent or utility arrears or pay their rent and/or utility bills prospectively. This ultimately will prevent individuals and families from getting evicted from their housing and becoming homeless.”

Those eligible to apply include individuals or families impacted by coronavirus through unemployment, a decrease in household income or confronted with some other financial hardship. Tenants and landlords are eligible to apply; landlords would be applying on behalf of their tenants. To be eligible, the income of applicants must be at or below 80% of the Area Median Income set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Information requested of the applicants will include identification for the head of household, income information for all those in the household who are older than 18-years-old, a copy of the lease, information about the landlord, and information about the rent and utility payments that are unpaid. Residents of Section 8 or public housing may be eligible to receive assistance for costs not covered by federal assistance and for the tenant’s portion of the rent or utility bills.

The 2021 Essex County Emergency Rental Assistance Program is being funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.