Rent Eats up at Least Half the Paycheck of 343,000 NJ Residents

Rent is Spiraling Out of Control
Thanks to Christie’s Neglect

Governor ChristieOn June 4, 2015 the Star-Ledger followed up this coverage with an editorial, “Rent is Spiraling Out of Control, Thanks to Christie’s Neglect.”

This was in response to the release of Make Room’s latest video, which focused 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.

On June 2, 2015, the Star-Ledger reported “Rent eats up at least half the paycheck of 343,000 New Jersey residents.

The Star-Ledger editorial stated:

“Christie’s position that towns should be able to choose whether they want to allow affordable housing has led a lot of them to block it from being built. This drives up the cost of housing and makes affordable apartments more scarce.

His undermining of our state’s entire affordable housing effort didn’t help, either. He refused to come up with new regulations for building these homes, and left the courts to clean up the mess.”

The news story and editorial highlight research conducted by the “Make Room” campaign sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners.

Enterprise found that 1.1 million renter households in New Jersey, nearly 1/3 of all families are ‘severely burdened,’ meaning they use 50% or more of their pre-tax income to pay for rent and utilities.

njrentAccording 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.

In the article, Angela Boyd, vice president of advocacy at Enterprise Community Partners, said that households across the country “face a severe shortage of decent, affordable rental housing, and they suffer in silence behind closed doors. To truly fix our economy, we need to give those renters a voice.”

The “Make Room” campaign has featured the Montgomery family of Patterson, New Jersey as an example of the renters across the country who are living America’s rental crisis. The Montgomery’s pay 75% of their household income towards rent.

Quoting the editorial again:

“This isn’t just about scarcity of affordable housing, of course; there are people who just aren’t making enough money to afford rent. But Christie deserves some blame for that also. He cut food stamps, resisted a bigger minimum wage increase and effectively raised taxes on the working poor by scaling back their earned income tax credits.

The diner waitresses and daycare workers pay the price for this — along with the Montgomery family.”

An increased investment in federal housing vouchers could help families like the Montgomerys. Rental assistance through vouchers provides an important stepping stone that helps working families, people with disabilities, seniors, and veterans to keep a roof over their heads and make ends meet.

Click here for the Star-Ledger article.

Click here for the editorial.

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

Click here for a NJ Fact sheet.