Welcome to the GoodBuy Homes NJ Realty blog, your go-to source for all things real estate in New Jersey. In today’s post, we’ll be shedding light on the Special One Time Assistance (SOTA) program—a remarkable initiative designed to support renters in need and help landlords fill vacancies. Whether you’re a tenant searching for affordable housing options or a landlord seeking reliable tenants, the SOTA program could be the perfect solution. Read on to discover how this program operates and how GoodBuy Homes NJ Realty can assist you in navigating it.

  1. What is the Special One Time Assistance (SOTA) Program?The Special One Time Assistance (SOTA) program offers eligible Department of Homeless Services (DHS) clients the opportunity to receive one year of paid rent. This assistance is available for clients looking to relocate within New York City, other counties in New York State, or even to another state, Puerto Rico, or Washington, D.C. SOTA is accessible to households with recurring income from employment, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, provided their rent does not exceed 40% of their current or projected income.

  2. Who is eligible for the SOTA Program?To be eligible for the SOTA program, certain criteria must be met:

  • Families with children must have been in shelter for at least 90 days.
  • Single adults and adult families must have been in shelter for 90 days out of the last 365 days.
  • SOTA is exclusively provided to households whom the Department of Social Services (DSS) has determined will likely have the ability to pay rent once the SOTA grant is no longer available.
  • Households must have recurring income from employment, SSI or SSD benefits, with rent not exceeding 40% of their current or projected income.
  • If the household is moving within New York City, they must not be eligible for any federal, state, or city rental subsidy.
  1. How is the ability to pay rent determined?To utilize the SOTA program, clients are required to provide proof of income, and their rent should not surpass 40% of their household income.

  2. How does a household in shelter apply for SOTA?Case managers and housing specialists play a crucial role in identifying clients who may qualify for SOTA. Additionally, clients can reach out to their case manager or housing specialist if they believe they meet the eligibility criteria. Housing specialists provide assistance in the housing search process, and clients may also explore available units independently.

When will the landlord receive SOTA payments?For new SOTA participants starting from February 2020, rental payments are made on a monthly basis, ensuring landlords receive their payments promptly.

What happens if a client leaves the apartment during the lease?As per the terms of the SOTA landlord agreement, landlords are obligated to notify the Human Resources Administration (HRA) within 5 business days of the tenant’s departure from the unit. Landlords are required to return any funds in excess of the client’s residency. Failure to do so may result in legal measures to recoup the funds. Tenants should also promptly inform the Department of Social Services (DSS) if they leave the unit before the end of the SOTA period.

If a landlord tries to evict the tenant during the first year, how can the tenant get help?Tenants facing eviction can seek assistance by calling the SOTA Hotline, where they can inquire about eviction prevention services available in their community. In New York City, HRA can refer tenants to a lawyer who can represent them in housing court. According to the terms of the landlord agreement, if an eviction occurs, the landlord must return any funds exceeding the client’s residency. Failure to comply may lead to legal action for recoupment by the city.

What if a DSS client returns to New York City shelter within the 12-month timeframe?DHS and HRA work closely with the client to understand their reasons for returning and address their unique needs appropriately. Efforts are made to help clients avoid re-entering shelter whenever possible, including assisting them in returning to their previous apartment.

The Special One Time Assistance (SOTA) program serves as a lifeline for both renters in need and landlords with vacancies. GoodBuy Homes NJ Realty is here to guide you through the program, offering valuable support in New Jersey. Whether you’re a renter seeking stability or a landlord looking to fill your rental units, remember that GoodBuy Homes NJ Realty is just a call away. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with the SOTA program and make your real estate journey a smooth and successful one.