$325M in Mortgage Relief Available to New Jersey Homeowners

You might be eligible for financial assistance from the government to pay your mortgage and other housing-related costs.

By , Attorney · University of Denver Sturm College of Law

In early 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. This law created a Homeowner Assistance Fund, a federal program, to give $10 billion to the states to help households that are behind on their mortgages and other housing-related expenses due to COVID-19.

Eligible homeowners in New Jersey who've experienced a financial hardship because of COVID-19 can get some of the $325 million allocated to the state ($270 million is earmarked for direct homeowner assistance) from the New Jersey Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance (NJ ERMA) program. This program provides federal money, up to $75,000 per household, to homeowners to help pay mortgage payments and other housing-related expenses, like property taxes and homeowners' insurance.

Financial Assistance for Eligible New Jersey Homeowners

The NJ ERMA program offers money to eligible New Jersey homeowners to:

  • reinstate a delinquent mortgage loan
  • pay other eligible housing-related costs, such as escrow shortages, delinquent property taxes, municipal or tax liens, delinquent homeowners' association (HOA) dues, and
  • cover up to four future mortgage payments, including principal, interest, taxes, and homeowners' insurance.

Eligibility Requirements for New Jersey's Homeowner-Relief Program

To qualify for relief from the NJ ERMA program, you must have suffered a financial hardship (a material reduction in income or an increase in living expenses) after January 21, 2020, because of COVID-19.

Also, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You must be behind in your mortgage payments or other eligible housing expenses.
  • Your mortgage or other housing costs must not have been 30 or more days delinquent before January 21, 2020.
  • You must currently own and occupy the property, located in New Jersey, as your primary residence. Eligible homes include one- to four-unit properties, which may be a detached house, condominium unit, or manufactured home on a foundation permanently affixed to real property. Second homes and investment properties don't qualify.
  • Your annual household income must be equal to or less than 150% of the area median income.
  • Your unpaid mortgage balance can't exceed program limits for the property type.

Take a prescreening quiz to find out if you're eligible for the NJ ERMA program. You can find a link on the NJ ERMA website.

How the NJ ERMA Program Works

Assistance will be in the form of a subordinate lien recorded against your home that's forgivable after three years. You only have to repay the assistance if, within three years:

  • you sell or transfer your home
  • you refinance (except for refinances for a lower rate and/or shorter term), or
  • you don't maintain the property as your primary residence during the three years.

The assistance payment goes directly to your loan servicer or other approved entity, like the tax office or insurance company.

How to Apply for Assistance From the NJ ERMA Program

To apply, go to the NJ ERMA website and register for an account.

You'll have to provide some documentation with your application, including a government-issued ID (like a driver's license), paperwork showing your housing-related costs, such as mortgage statements, as well as proof of income, such as pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns. Go to the NJ ERMA website to get a complete list of items you'll need.

Avoid Homeowner Assistance Fund Scams

If you get an unsolicited offer by phone, in the U.S. mail, through email, or by text message offering mortgage relief or foreclosure rescue services, be wary. Scammers sometimes target homeowners who've been affected by COVID-19.

Getting help from the NJ ERMA program is free. If anyone asks you to pay a fee to get housing counseling or foreclosure prevention services from this program, it's a scam. If you experience fraud associated with this program, be sure to report it.

Learn More

For more information about available assistance from this program, call 855-647-7700, email HAFServicing@njhmfa.gov, or go to the NJ ERMA website, where you can find a list of FAQs.

If you need help with your application, contact a HUD-approved housing counselor who will assist you at no cost. To find a counselor near you, go to the NJ ERMA program's "Find a Counselor" website, visit HUD's website, or call 800-569-4287.