Elvin Dominici is a candidate for an at-large seat on the Jersey City Municipal Council.
A recent news report states that Jersey City has not paid out a single penny of the $7.8 million dollars provided by the federal government to give much needed rental relief to residents and families suffering to make ends meet during the pandemic. Our local residents are doing their part to make ends meet and keep a roof over their head while the mayor and his handpicked city council have no sense of urgency in giving them support that they are entitled to as a way to prevent housing displacement or instability.
Jersey City might be quick to run to social media and the papers to claim they are the largest and most diverse city in Hudson County but they have done nothing to help our diverse communities throughout the city in getting rental assistance. Along with this, the current administration and the mayor’s handpicked “leadership” at the Jersey City Housing Authority have the audacity to create barriers to this rental assistance.
If the mayor Fulop and his handpicked city council members had empathy to care for Jersey City residents, they would’ve ensured that the rental assistance program started months ago, when the city first received the funding in March 2021, rather than waiting five months later to create a two-week application period. Along with that, they would’ve offered various ways for residents to apply for the program rather than requiring everyone to only apply online.
I’ve heard from numerous low-income and senior citizen residents who tried to apply to the program by calling the city or JCHA only to be told that they have to apply online. When the resident replied that they do not have a computer or internet, they were told that they could visit the Jersey City Public Library and use their computers. Why are we making it so difficult for residents to receive support to keep their housing?
The answer is very simple: the mayor and his handpicked city councilmembers do not care about our residents and families suffering to make ends meet during the pandemic. If I did not know any better, I would think Jersey City was run by people similar to Republicans in states like West Virginia or Tennessee because they too created barriers to help struggling residents apply for rental assistance.
This city government must stop playing with the lives of struggling Jersey City residents and families. If they truly care about our fellow residents, they must do the following now:
- Extend the application window for the rental assistance application process through at least September 15, 2021.
- Allow residents to submit their application either electronically or on paper, in person.
- Create a specific phone number that residents can call to schedule an appointment to complete an application or for assistance with the application with Jersey City employees working from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm during the application window.
- Work with local community organizations (i.e., faith-based communities, neighborhood associations, nonprofits) who can help residents complete their application and prepare to be sent to the city.
We cannot tolerate this level of irresponsibility and disinterest from the administration and several of the councilmembers to assist families and residents in need who call Jersey City their home. I ask fellow residents to speak up and demand proper representation, empathy, and support from their local representatives! Let’s get our residents and families the help that they desperately need right now.