By Victoria Ford
The New Jersey Resource Project has won a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of South Jersey for housing support services, the foundation announced Monday.
NJRP comes under the New Jersey Organizing Project, a community advocacy organization founded and led by Amanda Devecka-Rinear of Cedar Bonnet Island. Its mission is “to educate and connect community leaders to work together for solutions and take action toward an economically just and resilient future.”
“We’re thrilled for the support from the Fund for South Jersey to tell community members about the grant available to homeowners impacted by COVID-19,” Devecka-Rinear said.
The Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance program will start accepting applications on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 9 a.m., for homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage and other bills because of COVID-19. With it, families will be eligible for up to $35,000 toward overdue debt, mortgage reinstatement assistance, escrow shortages, delinquent property taxes, municipal or tax liens, and up to four future mortgage payments (including principal, interest, taxes and homeowner’s insurance).
“Shame can get in the way of sharing what we’re going through,” Devecka-Rinear said. “We stood together for rent and mortgage protections for our communities (after Superstorm Sandy); let’s stick together and make sure the folks who need this program actually hear about it.”
NJOP is one of the leading grassroots organizations that fought for the program’s implementation.
“In the years after Sandy,” Devecka-Rinear said, “we would hear from people who’d never heard about the RREM grants to rebuild from the storm, and it was just devastating” to realize people could miss out. “We hope everyone visits opens in a new windowcovidnj.com – click the ‘paying the bills’ section – or NJOP’s Facebook page to spread the word.”
ERMA is administered as a three-year forgivable loan. Qualifying grantees have suffered a COVID-19-related hardship and loss of income, or increase in COVID-19-related expenses, and need help with the mortgage or other housing costs on a primary residence located in New Jersey. Income restrictions apply, as set by the state Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“People that can benefit the most from these programs are often the last to find out, or they find out too late,” according to NJOP Board President Joe Mangino. “I would encourage every person who hears about this to share it with someone else. You never know who needs a hand.”
Little Egg Harbor resident and NJOP member Thea Gleason knows the struggle.
“My teaching salary alone cannot support my family,” she said. “So, like many of my colleagues, I usually supplement with a second job. … We were thankful to postpone our mortgage payments while we could. But with the rising cost of living, I don’t know how we can catch up.” Thanks to NJOP she learned of the ERMA program and “how it can relieve financial stress for me and so many families who are now convinced they’ll never get ahead.”
For more information, visit opens in a new windownjorganizing.us/mortgage.
NJRP is one of 41 South Jersey nonprofits to receive $210,000 in grant awards from the COVID-19 Response Fund.
To date, 153 grants totaling over $1 million have been distributed from the fund to organizations serving Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem counties negatively affected by the pandemic and related economic difficulties – thanks to the contributions of South Jersey residents, businesses and philanthropists. The fund supports local nonprofit organizations serving critical needs. To find out how to make donations or apply for a grant, visit opens in a new windowsouthjerseyresponsefund.org.
According to CFSJ Executive Director Andy Fraizer, Round Six of the grant funding helps “smaller arts and culture organizations who are still working to recover from this crisis as they adjust to operating in a new normal.”
“The effects of the pandemic continue to hamper nonprofits throughout the region,” said Wanda Hardy, chair of the foundation’s Community Leadership and Engagement Committee. “As we look to the future, we will continue to work with engaged and generous donors throughout our service area, as well as determined nonprofit partners, as the region moves from crisis relief to long-term recovery.”
In other NJOP/NJRP news, the public is invited on Thursday, Feb. 17 to the “Not One More” community meeting on Zoom from 6 to 7 p.m. Learn more about the organization’s work to end the overdose crisis and to expand access to lifesaving treatments for people with addiction. Register at opens in a new windowus06web.zoom.us/j/89643720001.
On Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m., join the “Storm Organizing” meeting (also opens in a new windowon Zoom), where Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Ida survivors work for just recovery and to reform broken disaster recovery systems. Check out the calendar at opens in a new windownewjerseyop.org under Get Involved to register. —V.F.