Housing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP) and the municipality have partnered to offer a second round of rental assistance to residents facing eviction during the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding for the rental assistance will be from federal funds received through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The program, which is under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides grants to municipalities and counties to aid low and moderate income residents.
HIP, a Princeton nonprofit, will manage the funding for the municipality and is set to use $319,527 in funds received from the program. The CBDG funding will provide for three consecutive months of rental assistance either going forward for an individual who qualifies, or for people who are still behind in rent.
Carol Golden, chair of HIP, said the Rental Assistance Committee expanded the number of members at HIP while preparing for the partnership and grant. Included in the committee will be seven bilingual members.
As part of rental assistance, a Rental Assistance and Princeton Landlord-Tenant Mediation program was recently created as a way to allow for landlords and tenants to resolve the issue of outstanding rent and give HIP the ability to extend the financial assistance.
Retired Judge Philip Carchman said during the Dec. 14 Princeton Council meeting that prior to the council approving the partnership, the objective of the program is to reach an accord for a three-month period and allow the landlord to be satisfied as to the rent being received and give the tenants the wherewithal to remain in their homes.
Each mediation would involve a landlord and a landlord representative, the tenant with counsel (the committee has a tenant’s advocate to aid the tenant with representation), an interpreter, an individual for tech from HIP who will run the virtual mediations from technical side, and the mediator.
Carchman added that the Mercer County Bar Association sent a letter to its members for volunteers to serve as mediators and as counsel in the program.
Even though the mediation program is strongly encouraged by HIP and municipal officials, if a tenant and landlord agree on rent it will not preclude the tenant from funding and they would not have to go through mediation.
According to officials, what is included in the requirement to qualify for rental assistance for the second round is a signed current lease (individual’s name must appear on the lease) and a self certification of the person’s income (family size and where they fall).