Say it ain’t so Governor!

Governor Jon Corzine promised when he was running for office that he was committed to the Homes for New Jersey goal of 100,000 new affordable housing units.

In today’s Star-Ledger’s article entitled “Corzine: Cost could hinder affordable housing effort” the following two paragraphs sum up his current position.

“Nearly halfway into his term, the Democratic governor has yet to deliver a housing plan, conceding the potential price tag — about $300 million over 10 years — is a big roadblock during tough budget times.

We’re in the midst of responding to the legal challenges associated with our housing policy … and we are reworking a number of incentives, trying to find ways to get additional resources and stimulate the plan on the table,” the governor said Friday. “Unfortunately, I don’t know if we would be able to afford it.”

The question should not be can we afford it but can we afford to continue to do nothing. With the deteriorating economy and the recent Census data from the American Community Survey, New Jersey is in a major affordability crisis.

According to the American Community Survey, “The median monthly housing costs for mortgaged owners was $2,130, nonmortgaged owners $787, and renters $974. Forty-five percent of owners with mortgages, 28 percent of owners without mortgages, and 50 percent of renters in New Jersey spent 30 percent or more of household income on housing.”

The top seven counties in New Jersey where tenants pay more than 50% of their income covers all areas in the state not just the usual suspects. Topping the list is Ocean County with 36.7% paying more than 50% of their income for rent. This is followed by Passaic at 35.6%, Cumberland at 29.9%, Salem at 29.5%,  Cape May at 24.6%, Essex at 24.3%, and Camden at 24.1%. How long can these families and individuals afford to pay more than half of their income for rent?

It is not any better for those who are owners. The top counties where owners spend more than 50% of their income are Union at 23.7%, Passaic at 23.2%, Hudson at 22.8%, Essex at 22.4%, Bergen at 20.3%, Hunterdon at 19.3% and Atlantic at 18.2%. How long can these families and individuals afford to pay more than half of their income to keep their homes?

Are we ready to accept a dramatic increase in foreclosures, evictions and the resulting increase in homelessness?

The failure to address this crisis will only result in greater costs than addressing the affordability crisis. The time to act Governor was two years ago.