By Alexander Mirabella
Chairman, Union County Board of Commissioners
The country is gradually re-opening and COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, however, our residents are still suffering from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
In support of our residents in need, Union County is launching an Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to provide financial relief for Union County residents unable to meet their rental obligation during the COVID-19 pandemic. This program allows eligible applicants to receive up to 12 months of assistance for unpaid back rent, as well as gas and electric utility expenses.
To make sure that every eligible tenant has an opportunity to apply for a grant, we are creating an online information portal in both English and Spanish. The portal will open for landlords to pre-register on Monday, July 26, and it will open for tenant applications on Monday, August 2.
To qualify for Union County ERAP funding, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Union County resident primarily responsible for paying rent;
- Make less than 80% of the average median income of Union County (e.g., less than $78,500 for a family of four);
- Experienced a loss of income since March 13, 2020 related to the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Provide required supporting documentation (copies of identification, tax returns, lease or other proof of income/residence may be acceptable, etc.).
Once the application is submitted, applicants will be notified of the funding decision. If approved, the funds will be provided to the landlord or utility provider on their behalf.
More information on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program will be available soon. Please check the County website, ucnj.org, or follow us on social media for updates.
Additionally, we will continue to hold our emergency food distribution events in July. The upcoming food distribution events are open to all Union County residents.
The food distribution schedule for July is:
- July 13 at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Elizabeth
- July 17 at Kean University in Union
- July 27 at Gerald B. Green Plaza in Plainfield
- July 31 at Kean University in Union
Although no registration is required, food will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and take place rain or shine. For more information including hours and locations, please visit ucnj.org/covid19.
The Union County Commissioner Board created the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and the food distribution events with funding from the Federal CARES Act for COVID-19 emergency relief. Additional CARES Act programs created by the Commissioner Board include child care assistance for low-income families and respite assistance for those caring for children with special needs and disabilities, and as well as grants for libraries, schools, restaurants and other small businesses, and non-profit organizations. For more details, please visit ucnj.org/covid19/cares-act-grants.
We are also continuing to intensify our efforts to ensure that every Union County resident can get a free COVID-19 vaccine at a convenient, easily accessible location. In addition to three permanent vaccine centers, our mobile unit visits local communities. We also bring vaccines to home bound residents, and we are extending our outreach to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, fact-based information about the vaccines. For hours and locations, and to book an appointment, visit ucnj.org/vax 24/7 or call 908-613-7829 during weekdays.
The fight is not over and the Commissioner Board will continue to seek every opportunity to provide assistance, services, and support during the pandemic. We are all in this together.
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