New Jersey Has a Vast Housing Affordability Gap

Health Providers Can Help Bridge The Gap Through Both Development and Advocacy Partnerships 

On January 17, 2020, the Center on Budget and policy Priorities (CBPP) published “Housing and Health Partners Can Work Together to Close the Housing Affordability Gap,” explores how housing and health partners can collaborate to close the housing affordability gap.

As healthcare partners work to partner with housing partners to create new housing affordability, it is critical for everyone involved to understand the housing affordability crisis in the United States.  Too many Americans struggle day to day to pay for their homes and too many Americans desperately need rental assistance to be able to afford their own homes.
The second paper points out that 3 out of 4 Americans who qualify for rental assistance don’t receive that assistance because there is not nearly enough affordable housing to meet the need.  CBPP updated its Federal Rental Assistance Fact Sheet for New Jersey in December 2019.  
Just a few of the facts in this New Jersey Fact Sheet lay our New Jersey’s affordability crisis:
  • 315,700 people in 162,000 New Jersey households use federal rental assistance to afford modest housing.
  • 68% of these people using rental assistance are seniors, children, or people with disabilities.
Who are the 3 out of 4 Americans living in New Jersey who aren’t receiving rental assistance?
  • But 4 in 10 low-income people in New Jersey are homeless or pay over half their income for rent. Most don’t receive federal rental assistance due to limited funding
  • 682,200 low-income New Jersey renters pay more than half their income for housing. Most don’t receive rental assistance due to funding limitations. 
Federal rental assistance helps struggling seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and working families keep a roof over their heads, often by helping them afford rental units they find in the private market. Ten million people in over 5 million low-income households receive federal rental assistance.
Our country’s current policy approach gives more help to those who need it least. We can change this. Policymakers need to work together to expand rental assistance and ensure that all New Jersey residents have access to good, affordable homes.  Can healthcare partners interested in partnering at the local level to create housing, work with housing advocates to push for increased funding for rental assistance?
“Access to safe, affordable housing supports people’s physical and mental health, research shows,” writes Peggy Bailey, vice president for housing policy at CBPP.
“The health care system has an important role in connecting patients to housing, but housing programs themselves need substantial additional resources to make a meaningful dent in the number of households that struggle to afford housing. Because health care stakeholders see face-to-face the difference affordable, quality, stable housing can make in health outcomes and have data that underscore the broader implications of a lack of affordable housing, they have an essential role to play in the housing policy debate.”
CBPP also published another paper “Medicaid Can Partner with Housing Providers and Others to Address Enrollees’ Social Needs,” which discusses how housing providers utilize the Medicaid program to coordinate health care and social services and to pay for health-related services such as tenancy-related services, which support an individual to be a successful tenant, better able to sustain tenancy.
A companion blog post in Health Affairs summarizes key points in the two papers along with some important recommendations.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is founding partner of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign.  Opportunity Starts at Home multi-sector affordable homes campaign staffed by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.