Advocates and Lawmakers call on the State to Invest in Affordable Housing
New Jersey is the fourth most expensive place in the nation to rent a two bedroom apartment (behind Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and California). In order to afford a rental apartment in New Jersey, a family must earn an hourly wage of $25.04. These startling facts were reported yesterday as the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released Out of Reach Report 2012.
“We’re seeing a trend of an increasing cost of living that is negatively impacting low income households and moderate incomes alike,” said Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex). “Despite this trend, we have a proposed state budget that doesn’t make the investments our residents need to prosper like the development of affordable homes.”
The high cost of rental housing in New Jersey impacts many of our neighbors – More than a third of New Jersey’s residents rent their home. Other key facts that paint the picture around the high cost of rental housing in New Jersey include:
In 2011, New Jersey ranked in the top five most expensive states to live in the United States;
This year’s status represents an 18% increase over a five year period;
The Fair Market Rent (FMR) in the state for a two bedroom rental is $1,302;
A family must earn $52,081 annually in order to afford a two bedroom rental;
A minimum wage worker would have to work 138 hours or 3.5 full time jobs per week, 52 weeks per year to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment;
The typical renter in the state earns $16.40 per hour which is $8.64 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest 2 bedroom rental at FMR; and
An estimated 62% of New Jersey renters do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit at the FMR.
To be considered affordable, that no more than 30% of a household’s income should be spent on housing. And all of these facts point to the need for an increased investment in affordable housing in the state.
“New Jersey has become less affordable in the last year,” said Diane Sterner, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ. “We need our leaders to invest in New Jersey’s future, and help create the homes our residents need and empower municipalities to transform their neighborhoods into vibrant, affordable, safe communities. Unfortunately, Governor Christie’s proposed FY 2013 state budget takes housing funds away from their intended purposes. This will gut efforts to restore vacant, foreclosed houses into affordable homes and apartments. Instead of creating more homes that people can afford, the Governor is putting our economic prosperity out of reach.”
At the county level, the report finds:
Bergen and Passaic are the most expensive counties in the state with where the FMR for a two bedroom is $1,515; and
The biggest change over the past year was in Cape May County where the estimated percentage of renters unable to afford a two bedroom at FMR jumped 6% to 58%.
In New Jersey, this annual report was released jointly with the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. It provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area, combined non metropolitan area, and county in the country.
Click here for the New Jersey data from Out of Reach 2012.