The Deep-Rooted Problem Behind New Jersey’s Affordability Crisis

Fair Share Housing Center’s, Adam Gordon Shares Insight Regarding Housing Discrimination in NJ

Fair Share Housing Center has been working to end the discrimination that many people of color and people with special needs experience when renting affordable homes in New Jersey. Adam Gordon, Associate Director at Fair Share Housing Center, affirms how housing discrimination negatively affects New Jersey as a whole and tells us how advocates can help end housing discrimination in New Jersey today.

New Jersey’s affordability crisis has been exacerbated as a result of not enforcing Mount Laurel. According to Gordon, rents in New Jersey have risen at twice the expected rate of incomes since 2000.  This high increase in rent is a direct result of exclusionary policies by wealthy, predominantly white municipalities which restrict new apartments from being built.

Gordon wants New Jersey residents to be more concerned with the racism and segregation that occurs in our state.  This racism and segregation are unjust, and many people are unaware of the negative impact it has on New Jersey as a whole. Excluding families and individuals from housing opportunity directly harms New Jersey’s economy. The lack of affordable housing in New Jersey causes many households to face hardships, making it extremely difficult to afford necessities like groceries and childcare.  

Even though over the past 30 years, 8,000 homes have been built for people with special needs in New Jersey, these new homes are still not enough. One of the main problems is that towns are failing to provide their fair share of housing, though settlements Fair Share Housing Center has reached in over 280 municipalities will help address that.

The special needs population makes up a decent percentage of New Jersey’s population which is evident in a report released by Disability Compendium that shows a map of “People with Disabilities Living in the Community as a Percentage of the US Population, by State, 2016”. It displays that approximately 9.9 percent to 11.6 percent of New Jersey’s population are people living with disabilities.

Beyond enforcing Mount Laurel, Gordon suggest a variety of ways that advocates can help end housing discrimination in New Jersey. Some of his suggestions include:

  • Stronger enforcement of the ban on discrimination around the use of federal Housing Choice Vouchers
  • Educating themselves on the full extent of fair housing laws
  • Making sure others are aware of fair housing laws
  • Watching how housing is being developed and marketed in their towns and communities and making sure new homes and apartments are being marketed to all
  • Making sure all people in need of affordable housing become aware of opportunities

Overall, some progress is being made to help end the discrimination that many people of color and people with special needs experience when renting homes in New Jersey, but much more needs to be done. Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live, and this starts with advocates enforcing Gordon’s suggestion to help let people know that opportunity starts at home.