19% of New Jerseyans Spend More Than Half of Their Income on Housing Costs

Report Reveals Low-Income Families and Families of Color Face Greatest Housing Cost Burden; Important Implications for Health

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute have released the 2019 County Health Rankings Key Findings Report. The County Health Rankings show how widespread the burden of severe housing cost is across the nation. Hundreds and thousands of families and communities face the burden of severe housing cost and this has important implications for our health.

In the U.S., more than 1 in 10 households lives with the burden of severe housing costs.  Across and within counties there are stark differences in affordability, depending on who you are, how much money you make, and where you live. While good health depends on jobs, education, transportation, health care, and more, all of these factors are linked to where we live—our home. In places where severe housing cost burden is high, there are more children in poverty, more people who are food insecure, and more people in poor health.  
Click here to learn about your County’s Health Ranking.
In 2017, in New Jersey, more than 270,000 children lived in poverty.  68% of NJ’s children living in poverty were living in a household that spends more than 1/2 of its income on housing costs.
In New Jersey, 
  • 14% of children are living in poverty.
  • Children in poverty among counties range from 4% to 28%.
  • Child poverty rates among racial/ethnic groups range from 5% to 27%
In New Jersey, 
  • 19% of households spend more than half of their income on housing costs.
  • Across counties, severe housing cost burden ranges from 13% to 26% of households.
  • Severe housing cost burden ranges from 14% to 37% among households headed by different racial/ethnic groups.
Click here to read more about New Jersey’s statewide and County Health Rankings
As housing expenses have outpaced local incomes, many families experience the burden of severe housing cost—meaning they pay more than half their income on housing. While severe housing cost burden has actually decreased for homeowners in the past decade, this improvement does not hold true for renters with as many as 1 in 4 impacted.
Its analysis looked at large urban and smaller metro counties—places with residential segregation of Black and White residents.  The analysis found that counties that are more segregated have higher rates of severe housing cost burden, both for White and Black households. However, Black residents face greater barriers to opportunity and health than Whites in these counties.
Nearly 1 in 4 Black households spends more than half their income on housing compared to 1 in 10 White households. And that burden is further increased for Black households due to differences in incomes. The median household income for White residents in these communities is $56,000 compared to $33,000 for Black residents.
Segregation, and how it has shaped the social and economic conditions of neighborhoods over time, is fundamental in understanding the stark differences in health between Blacks and Whites. Compared to Whites, Blacks living in residentially segregated places are more likely to be cut off from well-resourced schools and good paying jobs. They also face higher rates of child poverty, infant mortality, and poor health.