TRENTON, NJ – Continuing the Christie Administration’s ongoing efforts to better help Sandy-impacted families who are recovering from the storm, the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) today announced it has increased the monetary amount and the number of months the Rental Assistance (RAP) Program provides homeowners with financial assistance for temporary housing while their primary residences are undergoing repair or elevation in the State’s major home rebuilding programs.
Eligible homeowners in the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program and the LMI Homeowners Rebuilding Program (LMI Program) who have signed a grant agreement but who have not yet completed the construction, rehabilitation or elevation of their home may now receive up to $1,300 a month for rental assistance. Also, eligible homeowners will now receive three months of rental assistance and then up to six additional months of rental assistance if an extension is necessary and provided the funds are available (for a total of up to nine months).
The RAP Program, which is administered by the HMFA, was created to help storm-impacted homeowners in the state’s major housing rebuilding programs relieve some of the financial strain of paying for both a mortgage on their home and rent for temporary housing.
Program funds will be available until funding is exhausted, but all of the money must be expended by September 30, 2015. The state has a request pending with the federal Office of Management and Budget for an extension of that deadline.
The program is funded with $9.5 million in federal Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) funds appropriated under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 and made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS has transferred these funds to the HMFA for the Rental Assistance Program. Of the $9.5 million, approximately $7.6 million is reserved for homeowners in the RREM Program and approximately $1.2 million is reserved for homeowners in the LMI Program.
This program supplements the more than $285 million in recovery funding the state already has provided under the Homeowner Resettlement Program and Sandy Homeowner & Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP) to storm-impacted individuals to assist with non-construction related storm costs, in addition to initial funding provided under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program.
RAP Program assistance is for eligible storm-affected homeowners with signed grant agreements in the RREM Program or LMI Program, all of whom are residents of the nine counties most impacted by Superstorm Sandy as determined by the federal government. While there is no income restriction for participation, there are other eligibility criteria, which are dictated by federal regulation.
For example, there must be an outstanding mortgage on the primary residence undergoing repair. Participants must provide proof of their current mortgage payment. Also, applicants must not have completed construction, rehabilitation or elevation of their primary home. Additionally, all participants must have a signed lease on a rental property since the assistance is paid to the rental property owner, not to the homeowner, as required by federal regulations. Furthermore, participants cannot receive concurrent rental assistance from other governmental or charitable programs or from insurance proceeds in excess of total housing rent payments.
The Rental Assistance Program is not retroactive. RAP funds are only available to assist with rent going forward and may not be used as a reimbursement for previously paid or incurred rent. Funds are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to approved applicants.
Additional information including a program overview, frequently asked questions, and the program application form is available online at www.njhousing.gov/homeownership/owners/ssbg on the HMFA website. Applicants who do not have access to computer resources can contact 1-800-NJHOUSE for assistance.