Make Room Highlights Paterson Family Struggling to Make Rent

New Jersey’s Rental Housing Crisis
Second in US in Paying More than 50% for Rent

Joquann and LaRae MontgomeryMake Room’s latest video focuses on Joquann and LaRae Montgomery who have 3 kids and 3 jobs and spend 3 hours commuting and juggling their busy lives to ‘make it happen’ and stay housed in their Paterson, New Jersey apartment.

“It’s a struggle making it happen, but we’re making it.,” says Joquann Montgomery.

The Montgomery’s pay 75% of their household income towards rent and are living America’s rental crisis.

The Montgomery family as an example of just one of the 11 million families across the United States that is forced to make hard choices every day to pay rent on the first of the month. Their story makes the case for the critical importance for increased funding for the federal Housing Choice Voucher program.

Along with 44% of the renters in Paterson, more than half of the Montgomery’s income goes to rent. According to a county-by-county analysis by Make Room:

  • 343,000 NJ families, or 30%, paying at least half their income towards rent and utilities (New Jersey ranks second in the country),
  • Families with children, a total of 143,921 in New Jersey like the Montgomery’s, are the most affected by this crisis and
  • Office and administration workers, food service employees, building and maintenance workers, transportation workers and personal care and childcare workers are the top five jobs in New Jersey for distressed renters.

Speaking about Paterson.

“This is where we grew up. Granted, it’s having its moment now where it’s very violent…. But we know different, we know what it could be and what it was.”

Says LaRae Montgomery.

njrentJoquann and LaRae are doing their best to give their three kids a decent shot at life. But in crime-plagued Paterson, N.J., nothing comes easily. The couple doesn’t let their children play outside, for fear of being caught in neighborhood violence.

They can’t afford a car and spend more than three hours a day on public transportation. Joquann travels to his job as a community college security guard and does weekend service as part of the National Guard. LaRae works part-time and is a full-time student, working toward her associate degree so she can become a drug and alcohol counselor.

Make Room is advocating for solutions to our nation’s housing crisis. America’s leaders must pay more attention to the needs of struggling renters. As a country, our priorities are out of balance.

The U.S. government spends about $200 billion annually to help families buy and rent their homes. More than half of those housing subsidies go to families making more than $100,000 per year, according to one analysis.

All families need decent homes they can afford. We must expand the supply of rental housing, make sure renters are paid fair salaries and boost America’s investment in rental housing.

Click here to learn more about the Montgomery’s story.

Click here for a county-by-county map of what renters in New Jersey pay in rent.

Click here for a NJ Fact sheet.