DCA Rolls Out Expansive Statewide Eviction Defense Program in New Jersey
New Jersey, June 27, 2023 - The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has announced the launch of the Comprehensive Eviction Defense and Diversion (CEDD) program throughout the state, aimed at assisting low-income households facing eviction. The initiative provides legal services and experienced caseworkers, known as resource navigators, for a comprehensive defense against housing displacement.
Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner, said, “In a post-pandemic world where existing vulnerabilities of our working families have exacerbated housing burdens and revealed new ones, DCA is demonstrating a new way to serve the most vulnerable renters across New Jersey.”
The program, an expansion of successful eviction prevention pilot programs administered by DCA in 2021 and 2022, is anticipated to serve up to 15,000 households facing eviction. The resource navigators are skilled in homelessness prevention, relocation and rapid rehousing, social services support, rental assistance resources, and crisis intervention.
The program increases the number of resource navigators from 28 under the previous pilot programs to 48, hired and managed by 13 partnering social services agencies. The coverage area has also been extended from three cities to all municipalities across the state.
DCA Assistant Commissioner Janel Winter, who serves as director of DCA’s Division of Housing and Community Resources, commented, “Expanding eviction prevention capacity through a more expansive, stronger, and more coordinated and diverse network of intervention is fast becoming a more successful practice in fighting evictions across the country.”
The pilot programs revealed that 86 percent of the 5,100 households assisted avoided eviction and remained in their housing due to the assistance of resource navigators and attorneys. The data also highlighted the severe housing cost burdens faced by households assisted, with women (mostly single mothers) and households identifying as Black, African-American, or of color significantly overrepresented.
CEDD is funded by $7.4 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars, with $5.1 million allocated for resource navigators and $2.3 million for legal services.
Despite a decline in eviction filings in New Jersey compared to pre-pandemic levels, eviction risk due to rent arrearage and utility bill arrearage remains high compared to national averages, especially in suburban and rural communities with limited access to supportive services.
A list of providers by court vicinage and further program information will be widely shared as the CEDD program launches, providing hope for thousands of families in crisis.
For more information about DCA, visit DCA's official website.