Evictions in NJ pile up after 2-year moratorium put in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19

So where do people who get evicted end up? Are we seeing a huge increase in asylum populations?

I do talk to a lot of shelters who are afraid that if there is a big tsunami of people, they might not be able to handle it. What experts also tell me is that many people don’t go straight from deportation to a shelter. You may see people staying with friends or family, or living in a car. I mean, you can think of those things as homeless too, but it doesn’t mean the shelters are going to be overwhelmed right away.

About the state lottery rental utility. It is my understanding that if you require assistance you will be placed on a waiting list to be placed in a lottery where you may or may not actually get the help. Is that how it works?

Yes. This lottery was for a pot of $500 million. Unfortunately, at this point, all that $500 million has been pledged to tenants. Now it’s a good idea to apply, because maybe we’ll get a little more money. A state budget process is now underway. We’re not sure what’s going to happen there, but the other reason a tenant would still need to specifically request that pot is that it could delay their eviction case. A court will suspend your case for 60 days if they see that you have a pending rental assistance application.

New Jersey has taken another interesting step for renters who have missed their rent. It can be converted into a civil debt. That was during the pandemic, right?

This option has always been there, but this kind of took a step away from landlords. Normally, if a tenant misses rent, the landlord has two options, and they can do both: one files an eviction and the second sues the small claims court for the missed rent. The state of New Jersey did not want a wave of homelessness, many people were kicked out of their homes in the midst of this pandemic. So they abolished that eviction option, but landlords could still sue for the back rent and people could have money taken from their wages or through their bank.

Where can people get help navigating this? It’s just overwhelming.

It’s overwhelming for me, and I cover housing. I always recommend that if you need legal help, you should contact either New Jersey Legal Services or Volunteer Lawyers for Justice† I also mentioned New Jersey’s COVID-19 help from tenants Place. More resources are listed on my site, NorthJersey.com

Thank you, Ashley. Appreciate all the info and for staying informed.

Naturally.

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