TRENTON, NJ – The State of New Jersey had distributed only 25% of the $764 million allocated by the federal government to help struggling New Jerseyans catch up on overdue rent payments. That backlog could have disastrous effects for property owners and landlords who are being forced from evicting tenants in New Jersey until 2022.
According to the National Equity Atlas, 270,000 New Jerseyansare behind on their rent, owing as much as $1.1 billion. Even if the Murphy administration frees up and allocates that money that was supposed to go to renters struggling from the governor’s prolonged pandemic shut down, it may not cover everything.
Instead of helping renters, the Murphy administration instead is working on programs to rename service areas on the Garden State Parkway.
The average rent debt per household in New Jersey is $4,100.
Murphy’s handling of the distribution of funds has disproportionately affected people of color NEA says. 71% of those affected were people of color behind on their rent who experienced job and income losses during the year-long Murphy business shutdown.
The report says COVID-19 impacted renters, mostly African Americans and Latinos have resorted to incurring even more debt to pay their bills. Many have borrowed money from family members, while just 22% said state and federal economic stimulus programs are helping them catch up.
Essex County leads the state with 44,404 people who are behind on their rent. Hudson County has 41,131; Bergen County has 26,400; and Middlesex County has 23,882.
At the shore, Monmouth County leads with 14,915 people behind on their rent. Ocean County is second with 11,616 and Atlantic County has 6,235 people behind on their rent.
While renters are now protected from eviction in New Jersey by their landlords, they are not protected from landlord debt collection or even court. Murphy’s eviction moratorium allows for landlords to sue their tenants in civil court, but they cannot file for eviction until at least January of 2022 at this time.