COVID financial aid still available

There are still COVID financial relief programs to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. (Courtesy of iStock Photo)

By ANDREW J. LUCA

We’ve all appreciated that COVID-19 has become less of a part of our daily lives, whether it’s health and safety issues, mask requirements, or the media coverage that previously overwhelmed our TV screens and our phone applications since the beginning of 2020.

But the damaging and financial burdens of the past two years are still felt by many of our friends, neighbors and family members.

State assistance programs:

Many of the “moratoriums” put in place to combat the monetary strains created by COVID have expired, but not all. Other forms of aid have been announced to provide additional assistance in their absence.

Additional programs have been created by various funding sources to continue to economically benefit families who are working hard to regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. However, these necessary initiatives are often under-reported.

Below is a partial list of programs currently active and accepting applications. These offers are designed to help those still affected by the pandemic.

Mortgage assistance:

The Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program helps protect New Jersey homeowners from foreclosure. Eligible households can receive up to $35,000 in financial assistance that can be used for a variety of property-related events, including: overdue property taxes or liens; mortgage reinstatement or mortgage payments. To apply, go to www.njerma.com

Mortgage Payment Vacation:

At the start of the pandemic, more than 155 banking institutions, credit unions, mortgage managers and others agreed to support initiatives for homeowners in financial difficulty due to COVID-19. These lenders may offer a 90-day forbearance (aka “grace period”) to affected borrowers and provide assistance in applying for further relief. Interested homeowners are encouraged to contact their lender or the entity servicing their loan about this program and other eligible programs.

Foreclosure Mediation:

If homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments and at risk of foreclosure, New Jersey courts offer foreclosure mediators at no cost to the homeowner. These people will help the defaulting lender and borrower develop options to remedy missed payments.

The courts also provide free housing advisers to landlords to explain the procedure and provide documents. Homeowners can contact the Superior Court Registry at 609-421-6100 or visit https://www.njcourts.gov/courts/superior/foreclosure.html

County Relief Efforts:

Most counties in New Jersey are also offering their own programs to help local homeowners who are facing financial hurdles due to the pandemic. In addition to the state aids listed above, be sure to contact the county office where you live or visit your county’s website to take advantage of currently available savings programs that can help you stay in your home.

About the Author: Andrew J. Luca, Esquire is a co-founding member of CKL Law Group, LLP and has practiced real estate and consumer fraud law in New Jersey for nearly 20 years.

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