On Tuesday, the Somerset County Board of Commissioners approved the allocation of up to $1.6 million from the US bailout to add to a previous federal grant of $7.7 million from the federal rescue program. emergency rental assistance for which the application deadline expired in mid-April.
The total funding of more than $9 million, the county said, prevents the eviction of more than 2,000 residents from nearly 900 households following the lifting of COVID-19 moratoriums.
Commissioner-Director Shanel Robinson said the effort she and her colleagues undertook actually started with making sure the owners were compensated.
“We went through a process to identify tenants and landlords who were part of this cohort who may have been behind on their rent, and/or landlords who had been unable to collect,” Robinson said. .
The average support package offered to households so far has been valued at just under $10,000 for up to 12 months of rent arrears, three months of term rent and assistance with utility bills. , according to Robinson.
The county said 18 of its municipalities received housing assistance funding, led by Franklin Township at nearly $2.9 million, and black residents made up about half of those who identified their race. or their ethnic origin.
“Hopefully this will get us through this next phase, but again we continue to monitor the situation,” she said. “It’s very fluid. We just want people to be healed and stronger than before the pandemic.”
Other counties in New Jersey, Robinson said, may have abandoned their process for managing this emergency aid or hired outside consultants.
But Somerset County has identified people within its borders who could be ambassadors, helping with applications at county libraries.
This expanded and maximized the county’s outreach potential, according to Robinson.
“Mobile services and meeting people where they are, not just meeting their needs where they are, but being physically among them in the community where they actually live,” she said. “Certainly, as we come out of or emerge from this pandemic, we want to make sure everyone is on solid ground, but especially our most vulnerable populations.”
While no single legislative body has all the answers about how to lift its residents out of pandemic-related financial stress, Robinson said, collaboration leads to better outcomes for everyone.
So no matter what county a New Jersey resident is from, she suggested reaching out to local elected officials and agencies when needed.
Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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