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Homeowners Assistance and Housing Programs
New Jersey – Making Home Affordable options
Making Home Affordable is a federal program designed to cover different homeowners’ hardships and financial situations. Under the program there are various options that can help New Jersey homeowners in hardship stay in their homes. Depending on the situation New Jersey homeowners in hardship can apply to lower their monthly payments, lower the interest rate on their home loan or even get principal reduction in some cases.
There are foreclosure alternatives and temporarily help for unemployed homeowners as well.
Here are some of the most used options under Making Home Affordable Program:
- Lower your monthly mortgage payments with Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
- Lower your interest rate with Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)
- Check eligibility for principal reduction with Principal Reduction Alternative SM (PRA)
- Get help if currently unemployed with Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP)
- Reduce your 2nd mortgage monthly payments with Second Lien Modification Program (2MP)
- Explore your foreclosure alternatives with Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA)
- FHA Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP)
HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) approved housing counselor can be reached at: 888-995-4673 (Hearing impaired: 877-304-9709 TTY) to help you understand your options, prepare your application, and work with your mortgage company.
Food Assistance Programs, Services, and Organizations in New Jersey
New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing the hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA, including New Jersey. Learn more about SNAP.
It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.
In New Jersey, the SNAP is known as New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is administered by the Division of Family Development (DFD) under New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS). The Federal Government pays 100% of New Jersey SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the New Jersey SNAP administrative cost.
According to New Jersey Division of Family Development, “The purpose of the NJ SNAP (NJ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly Food Stamps) is to improve nutrition and health. It helps low income households buy the food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet. The Program is authorized by Congress and operated by the state and local welfare offices.”
Who is Eligible for SNAP (Food Stamps) in New Jersey?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in New Jersey, like in other States, are based on limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements, some of them specific to each State. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.
The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of eligible, low‐income local population.
New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption. People living with roommates, people who are temporary unemployed, or people who are homeless can also get food stamps if they meet specific eligibility guidelines.
Federal SNAP rules require certain people to be included in one household account even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. Husbands and wives of any household member, their children under age 22 when living together, plus children younger than 18 who are dependents of an adult household member are all considered as a part of one household formation.
In New Jersey anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for New Jersey SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- New Jersey Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member who is 16 to 60 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
- Income Limits – Income limits eligibility depends on the household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both gross and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and other.
New Jersey residents may be automatically or so called categorically eligible for SNAP benefits if they already participate in other means tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits funded by federal grants from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for SNAP benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing the federal standards for income and assets eligibility.
Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any federal grant funded benefit that can make Food Assistance applicants eligible. Currently NJ DHS/DFD uses gross income of 185% or less of the FPL for broad categorical eligibility. More information on NJ SNAP eligibility can be obtained by calling 1-800-687-9512.
See the table for Maximum Monthly Income (measured as percentage of federal poverty level – FPL) allowable for SNAP Benefits Eligibility in State of New Jersey, as per household size:
[table id=60 /]
Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards
Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get New Jersey SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps).
The screening allows interested in getting New Jersey food stamps to provide some basic information and find out if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
If you use this Pre-Screening Tool you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire. This is a pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application at your local NJ County Welfare Agencies/Boards of Social Services.
Even if you are unsure whether you would qualify you still may be eligible for SNAP Benefits and you should still apply. In new Jersey local County Welfare Agencies/Boards of Social Services determine who is eligible for food stamps.
What are Maximum New Jersey SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits?
If approved, the New Jersey SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of the their net income. USDA has maximum SNAP benefit limits per month per household size. Check below what are the maximum food stamp assistance monetary amounts a household can get. The dollar amounts of the food stamp benefits are called allotments.
[table id=29 /]
Source: USDA, SNAP Maximum Allotments
How to Apply for SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps) in New Jersey?
To apply for SNAP benefits in New Jersey you can download the “Application and Affidavit for Public Assistance” from the NJ DFD page, print it and make it as a paper application that can be mailed or turned in the any of the local NJ County Welfare Agencies/Boards of Social Services.
The same application form can be used to apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), General Assistance, AFDC-only Medicaid, Refugee Resettlement Program, Kinship Care Subsidy Program, and Emergency Assistance.
More than one assistance program in an application is common practice by a lot of the States, since most of the people in need of food stamps are likely to be in need of cash and other assistance.
If you are to file a paper Application for Assistance – just fill out all required information on the application and mail or turn it in any County Welfare Agency.
If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the SNAP application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, social security number, and your signature for the DFA to accept it. All required information and its verification can be provided later at the interview or upon request.
To apply for SNAP benefits in New Jersey you can also do it by using the NJ OneApp web portal offered by the NJ Department of Human Services (DHS). Online, you can pre-screen and apply for SNAP and other assistance and services. The web portal allows you to check the application status and complete unfinished application.
No matter which way you choose to apply, the application process includes a SNAP eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the DFD worker will contact you to set up an interview and verify the information on your application. If you are elderly or disabled individual and cannot come to the local Welfare Agency for an interview, call the them to request your SNAP eligibility interview conducted over the phone.
Before a decision is made a DFD worker has to verify all the paperwork and interview you. During the interview you will receive information about SNAP work requirements and your responsibilities if participating in the program.
Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due, along with reporting requirements.
The SNAP benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.
If you are eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received.
New Jersey SNAP Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required
In addition to filing an application in State of New Jersey, the process to determine your SNAP eligibility includes an interview and information verification.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development has a list of examples of documents and information that may be needed at the interview:
- Proof of Identity for Household Members included in the Application:
- Birth Certificate;
- Old Food Stamp ID;
- Work Photo ID;
- Drivers’s License or;
- School Photo ID.
- Social Security Number for all Household Members included in the Application
- Proof of New Jersey Residency:
- Current rent receipt (with landlord’s name and phone number, your mailing address, and amount of rent)
- Current rental assistance (HUD) agreement
- Current mortgage statement and/or tax bill
- Current lease
- Immigration Status if you are not U.S. Citizen:
- Current I-94 or
- Current I-551 (green card).
- Bank or Credit Union Statement
- RV Vehicle such as a boat or motor home
- Savings Bonds
- Retirement Account Statements
- Trust Documents
- Earned Income:
- Pay stubs for the prior month, showing gross wages and deductions
- Last year’s tax records if you are self-employed
- Unearned Income:
- Copy of award letter for pension or VA
- Copy of interest statement from bank savings account
- Letter from employer stating amount of private disability
- Child Support – copy of court order or letter from absent parent
- Signed/dated letter from provider of any money you receive on a regular basis
- Rent receipt
- Mortgage statement
- Property Taxes
- Home Owner’s Insurance (if not included in your mortgage)
- Gas/Electric bill
- Phone bill
- Water/Sewer bill
- Coal/Wood/Oil bills
- Medical Bills – for people over age of 60 or people who are disabled
- Child Care – If you are paying for child care so you can work, go to job training or look for a job, you need a signed and dated letter from your child care provider with the following information:
- Name of child care provider
- Hourly fee
- Number of hours per week they provide child care
- Child Support – If you are under a court order to pay child support and you are paying it, you need proof of the following:
- Who you pay
- Child(ren)’s name(s)
- Court order number
Additional information and proof may be required by your caseworker depending on your application and household situation. In case you are not able to provide all the information during the SNAP application interview, you may be given time to provide the required proof.
Applicants for SNAP benefits in New Jersey should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the County Welfare Agency. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set by the agency period of time in order to assure their participation in the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer for all SNAP benefit recipients age 16 through 59 if they are not exempt. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.
The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 through 49 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.
As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments. The main goal of the Employment and Training Program is to help the SNAP benefits recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.
Call 1-800-687-9512 if you want to find more about New Jersey Employment and Training Program offered to SNAP recipients.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP Benefits?
New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the New Jersey SNAP benefits are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through an New Jersey EBT card. The New Jersey SNAP Benefits are deposited into the recipients accounts each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.
Benefits are made available on the first day of every month.
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call New Jersey EBT Customer Service: 800-997-3333
How and Where to Use the SNAP Benefits?
New Jersey SNAP benefits are provided via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the New Jersey SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through New Jersey EBT Cards – Families First. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any New Jersey grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits.
Check this list of New Jersey SNAP participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of SNAP eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.
I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!
Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Stamp Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources; or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farm worker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify for it, provide all required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-800-687-9512 for more information on New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.