Homeowners in This State Could Get up to $35,000 in Stimulus Funds for Mortgage Assistance
- Many homeowners are still behind on housing payments due to the financial impact of the pandemic.
- Some New Jersey property owners could qualify for a large amount of relief, but there are rules and restrictions applicants need to know.
In a state where housing is notably expensive, some relief is in store.
Many people lost income at various points during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that extends to homeowners across the country. Early on in the outbreak, homeowners were given the option to put their mortgages into forbearance. Under forbearance, borrowers could pause their monthly payments without being flagged as delinquent.
But for those who went the forbearance route early on in the pandemic, that protection has long since run out, since it was capped at 18 months. Now, homeowners who are still struggling financially could be at risk of losing their homes. This includes homeowners who are sitting on a decent level of equity.
Because property values are up on a national level, homeowners who can't keep up with their mortgage payments may have the option to sell their homes for enough money to pay off their mortgages and walk away clean. But that still requires those people to give up their homes. And those in precarious financial situations might struggle to find alternate housing.
In some states -- namely, those where property taxes are high -- the problem is even more pronounced. One such state is New Jersey, which has the dubious distinction of having the highest property taxes in the country. But now, struggling New Jersey homeowners may be in line for some much-needed relief.
Help is on the way in the Garden State
The Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance program (ERMA) will make up to $35,000 in assistance available to eligible homeowners who have lost the ability to keep up with their housing costs due to COVID-related income loss. To be eligible, New Jersey residents must show that their earnings declined during the pandemic and they now have an income of no more than 150% of the median income for their region.
There are other requirements, too. Homeowners can only apply for assistance to cover housing costs for a primary residence in New Jersey, and it must be a one- to four-unit property. This means someone who owns an apartment building and lives in one of its many units won't qualify.
Second homes and investment properties also won't qualify for aid. The aid also only applies to those who were not delinquent on their mortgages before Jan. 21, 2020.
Those who are eligible for ERMA assistance can get money to cover things like past-due mortgage payments, property taxes, and utility bills. Qualifying homeowners can also receive funds to cover up to four future mortgage payments.
Those who are approved could receive up to $35,000 in housing assistance, payable as a three-year forgivable loan. However, there's a catch: Each loan will be listed as a lien on the property it's associated with. Homeowners who sell their properties or don't keep them as their primary residences within that time frame will have to repay those loans.
How to apply
Homeowners looking to apply for New Jersey's housing aid program can sign up via a special portal. Meanwhile, those with questions about the program can email the ERMA team at [email protected] or call (855) 647-7700 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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