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​​​​​​​​Welcome to the LSNJLAWSM website, provided by Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ). LSNJ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit offering free legal advice to low-income people in New Jersey. Find legal information by clicking on a legal topic or typing a few words into the search box. ​

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Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance

Grant assistance is available to help homeowners struggling with mortgage or other homeowner payments. The Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance program (ERMA) is for qualified New Jersey homeowners struggling with homeowner-related expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) is in charge of the ERMA program, and the money comes from federal Homeowner Assistance Funds (HAF). The HAF/ERMA program aims to help an estimated 7,000 homeowners in New Jersey by providing eligible households with up to $35,000 for mortgages, taxes, or other eligible expenses.

Applying for HAF/ERMA and Eligibility

The launch date for the HAF/ERMA portal is February 8, 2022.

To be eligible, applicants must earn less than 150% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for their community. For example, the 150% AMI limit for a three-person household in Essex, Morris, Sussex, and Union counties is $145,000. To review the AMI information for all of New Jersey, visit the NJHMFA website and review its “Income Limits” section.

The applicant must own and occupy a one- to four-unit home as a primary residence located in New Jersey. The applicant must show proof that a COVID-related hardship occurred after January 20, 2020, and made it difficult to pay the mortgage or other housing costs. The applicant may need to provide an explanation of the COVID-related hardship in writing, and provide other documented proof.

The NJHMFA will require certain documents from applicants, including:

  • Government-issued ID.
  • Paystubs or proof of income for four weeks.
  • Bank statements for two months.
  • IRS tax returns.
  • Mortgage statements (if there is a mortgage).

More information about required documentation is available on the NJHMFA website under “Program Required Documents.”

How HAF/ERMA funds can be used

ERMA funds can be used to:

  • Repay mortgage debt and bring the mortgage to “current” on payments,
  • Pay the next four mortgage payments,
  • Pay non-mortgage costs such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, assessments, and liens, or
  • Pay a combination of unpaid mortgage debt, mortgage payments, or costs.

ERMA funds will not be available for utility payments because programs are already in place to help with those bills, like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). For more information about LIHEAP, call 1-800-510-3102.

If you’re in foreclosure and worried about losing your home before HAF/ERMA launches

If you are currently in foreclosure and concerned about losing your home, contact the LSNJLAWSM Hotline immediately for assistance.

If you have an approaching sheriff’s sale date and have not yet requested delay, you may call the sheriff’s office and request two 30-day delays of the sale date. If you already used up your two delays, you still may qualify for additional delays. According to recent guidance from the New Jersey Supreme Court, homeowners may request extra delays of sheriff’s sale while waiting for the HAF / ERMA program to launch. Contact the LSNJLAWSM Hotline as soon as possible. ​​​