(NEWARK, NJ) -- On December 8, 2021, Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced that the Newark has distributed or committed its full $20.3 million allocation of Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to more than 1,800 households.
Newark's success in accelerating the distribution of ERAP funds makes the City eligible for additional funding from the US Treasury. However, it also makes it necessary to stop receiving applications this Friday, December 10.
As Newark recovers from the pandemic, Mayor Baraka set a major goal of preventing the eviction of thousands of Newark residents who have been financially affected by COVID-19. The ERAP program is an important instrument in reaching that goal. Understanding the tremendous task involved in compiling the financial documents required by the ERAP program, filling out applications, overcoming language barriers and determining the financial need of each applicant, Mayor Baraka and the City Department of Economic and Housing Development (EHD) came up with a strategy for getting assistance to Newark renters quickly and efficiently.
"Newark's leadership in distributing Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds is the result of a wide-ranging collaboration between community groups, clergy, council members, tenant organizations, individuals, and many others joining together to help prevent Newarkers from being evicted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mayor Baraka. "As the eviction moratoriums expire, Newark has applied for additional ERAP funds, will expand the staffing of our Office of Tenant Legal Services, and join with other cities and states to fight for enough Federal ERAP funds to stop COVID-related evictions."
The city hired Ernst & Young to administer its ERAP efforts, adding significant technical and human resource capacity. This decision, along with other efforts by the City and its partners, has helped Newark's program rise to become one of the most successful in the country. From July 26 to September 30, the City awarded 175 applications and dispersed $813,000 with an average award of $4,645 per household. By the end of November, Newark had accelerated to a total of 1,800 applications and dispersed or obligated $15.2 million with an average award of $8,445 per household.
At this pace, Newark's full $20.3 million allocation of ERAP funds will be in the hands of residents by January 18, 2022. As a result, it is necessary to move the closing date for ERAP applications back from Friday, January 7, 2022, to Friday, December 10, 2021. The Essex County ERAP program still has funds remaining, and Newark is urging residents to use the Essex County ERAP Portal online or to apply at the Essex County Division of Community Action, 50 South Clinton Street, East Orange.
It is likely that some of the ERAP funds not used by cities and states will be reallocated to cities and states with successful ERAP programs. The City of Newark applied for $14 million before the US Treasury closed applications for those recaptured funds.
A large portion of the program's success can be attributed to successful collaboration with community partners. Newark's outreach and application assistance initiatives were spearheaded by five community-based organizations hired by the City. These included Ironbound Community Corporation; New Community Corporation; La Casa de don Pedro; Unified Vailsburg Services Organization; Clinton Hill Community Action. Others involved were the Newark People's Assembly; Newark Community Street Team; and Invest Newark, all of which contributed such activities as flier distribution, door to door canvassing, multi-lingual assistance to help tenants apply, and social media. The outreach also benefitted from informational meetings held by Mayor Baraka on Zoom and Facebook Live, plus Mayor Baraka's thrice-weekly Facebook Live announcements. In addition, Jerrah Crowder, the City's Affordable Housing Manager, led this complex effort.