By ANDREW J. LUCA
We have all welcomed COVID-19 being less a part of our daily lives, whether it be health and safety concerns, mask mandates or the news coverage that previously overwhelmed our TV screens and phone apps since early 2020.
But the detrimental and financial burdens of the past two years are still being felt by many of our friends, neighbors and family members.
State Assistance Programs:
Many of the “moratoriums” put into place to combat the monetary stresses created by COVID have expired, but not all of them. Other forms of aid have been announced to provide supplemental assistance in their absence.
Additional programs have been created by various funding sources to continue the economic benefit to families working hard to return their lives to a sense of normalcy. However, often these necessary initiatives are under-publicized.
Below is a partial list of programs that are presently active and accepting applications. These offerings are designed to help those still being impacted by the pandemic.
The ERMA (Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance) program helps protect residential homeowners in New Jersey from foreclosure. Eligible households can receive up to $35,000 in financial assistance which can be used towards various real property related events including: delinquent property taxes or liens; mortgage reinstatement or mortgage payments. To apply, visit www.njerma.com
Temporary Relief from Mortgage Payments:
During the pandemic’s infancy, over 155 banking institutions, credit unions, mortgage loan servicers and others agreed to support initiatives for homeowners struggling financially as a result of COVID-19. These lenders may offer a 90-day forbearance (i.e. “grace period”) to affected borrowers as well as provide assistance with requesting additional relief. Interested homeowners are encouraged to contact their lender or the entity servicing their loan about this and other eligible programs.
If homeowners are behind in their mortgage payments and at risk of foreclosure, the courts in New Jersey are offering foreclosure mediators at no cost to the homeowner. These individuals will assist the lender and the delinquent borrower to develop options to address the missed payments.
The courts are likewise offering, free of charge, housing counselors to the homeowners to explain the process and provide documents. Homeowners can contact the Superior Court Clerk’s Office at 609-421-6100 or visit https://www.njcourts.gov/courts/superior/foreclosure.html
County Relief Efforts:
Most New Jersey counties also offer their own programs to assist local homeowners who are experiencing financially related obstacles due to the pandemic. In addition to the state aid listed above, be sure to contact the county office where you live or visit your county’s website to take advantage of the economic programs currently available which can help you remain in your home.
About the Author: Andrew J. Luca, Esquire is a co-founding member of the CKL Law Group, LLP and has been practicing Real Estate and Consumer Fraud law in New Jersey for nearly 20 years.