Low income tenants and the homeless in Mercer County New Jersey can get help for stopping evictions as well as enroll into rapid rehousing. There is a group of non-profits and government agencies that provide assistance as part of the Alliance to End Homelessness and also the Continuum of Care. They offer a number of different solutions in an effort to address the lack of housing in the Trenton and Mercer County area.
There is financial help for rental or utility arrears, security deposit programs, help for moving, legal aid, and much more. People from all backgrounds can apply for homeless prevention services, ranging from women or children fleeing domestic violence to the disabled, mentally ill, single moms, and others. Some resources, such as SSVF, are also focused on giving grants to veterans.
There are a few agencies that take the lead in keeping tenants in their current home or apartment. They include the Mercer County Board of Social Services, the Continuum of Care, HomeFront, as well as a free Homeless Hotline, which can be reached at (609) 468-8296. Each will focus on providing certain services as noted below.
When an eviction is imminent, emergency money can be available for dealing with arrears that a struggling tenant may owe. The funds will be paid directly to the landlord or energy provider. When it comes to assistance for utility bills, this can include water, winter heating, as well as electric bills. The funds for most of these resources come from the Emergency Solutions Program (ESG) service in Mercer County as well as the United Way.
Applications are first come and served. When seeking eviction help, be prepared to prove your income and cause of the hardship. Other requirements include enrollment into case management, and the applying family needs to be able to sustain the housing on their own.
The solutions range from shelter to vouchers to pay for motels while the applicant is seeking (or moving into) a new permanent home. The lack of affordable housing is a major challenge for the homeless as well as low income in the city of Trenton. With monthly rent increases often exceeding annual raises in income, the problem may be getting even worse.
Rapid rehousing from non-profits such as the Mercer County Alliance to End Homelessness involves taking the client and getting them into a place to live, ideally bypassing shelters and the like. However in order for this to occur the applicant needs to be mostly stable, so there have a job or be on public benefits, such as section 8. Note when the shelters are full, this is when hotel vouchers may be used to fill the gap.
Homefront (phone (609) 989-9417) is also a participant in organizing rehousing. This agency will try to provide everything from security deposit assistance to money for turning on electricity. The staff from the non-profit work to end the cycle of poverty as well as homelessness. The case managers will work with the client they stabilize their life over the future. Even the applicant has a barrier, such as chronic unemployment or a mental illness, resources for those needs will be arranged too.
There are many times when emergency solution grants are used up. The funds tend to be used to help pay rental arrears and money will often run out during mid-year, so anyone seeking financial help after those dates may have their application denied. When this occurs the Central New Jersey Legal Office in Trenton ((609) 695-6249) may be able to help.
The lawyers from the pro-bono firm will first try to find a solution by so called mediation. This involves both tenants and landlords exploring everything from payment plans to a “gradual” transition fro the rental property. This will in effect give the family more time to find another stable place to live at. When that doesn't work, then a lawyer may offer legal assistance is the form of eviction defense.
There are two primary numbers to contact for homeless prevention assistance in Mercer County. The hotline can be reached at (609) 468-8296. Or dial the government and local Board of Social Services, and that number is (609) 989-4320. These numbers are in addition to the contact information referenced above.
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