Newark, NJ-October 21, 2020 - Mayor Ras J. Baraka today announced that the Newark Office of Tenant Legal Services (OTLS) has joined in a partnership with the NJ SHARES SMART program to provide $372,000 in funding to prevent evictions for nonpayment of rent. NJ SHARES will pay up to $2,000 a year to landlords to stave off eviction for back rent owed by a household.
“Last year, we began providing pro bono legal representation to low income tenants facing eviction to protect their legal rights when facing unwarranted and illegal evictions by their landlords. Newark was one of the nation’s first municipalities to do this,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Now, in the midst of COVID-19, there are many tenants that owe back rent who could face homelessness when the eviction moratorium ends, and the partnership with NJ SHARES is one step to help deal with this threat.”
OTLS serves Newark households with a gross (before taxes) household income of 200 percent or less of the current federal poverty level and that are facing eviction. Those eligible for financial assistance under the NJ SMART partnership must in addition have an eviction complaint that has been reviewed by an OTLS attorney and be experiencing a financial crisis. Funds may only be used for homelessness prevention and are dispersed to the tenant’s current landlord or to a prospective landlord when current housing is uninhabitable or unsafe.
“Our SMART Program is designed to assist households on the brink of eviction,” explained Cheryl Stowell, Chief Executive Officer of NJ SHARES. “Our partnership with OTLS will enable us to get funding into the hands of those who need it most throughout Newark.”
Allison Ladd, Deputy Mayor and Director, Newark Economic and Housing Development said, “I want to give special thanks to Mayor Baraka for his leadership in creating OTLS and to Khabirah Myers, OTLS Coordinator, for her foresight and advocacy in expanding the assistance that we can provide to Newark’s most vulnerable residents. This desperately needed financial help for renters will help the OTLS do even more in its fight to prevent displacement and increase housing stability in Newark."
OTLS is funded by the City of Newark with additional funding from the Victoria Foundation and Santander Bank.
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