Cost Burdened Renters May Be At Further Risk Amid COVID

New Jersey’s Affordable Housing Crisis Exacerbates with Rising Unemployment

On April 8, 2020, The New York Times reported that “31% Can’t Pay the Rent: ‘It’s Only Going to Get Worse’.”

This is national data. It is important to keep in mind that well before the COVID-19 health pandemic, there was a housing affordability crisis in New Jersey.

“The National Multifamily Housing Council, a trade group for big apartment owners and developers, compiled data tracking rent payments across some 13.4 million units nationwide. It showed that through the first five days of April, 31 percent of tenants had so far failed to pay their rent, compared with 18 percent in the same period a year ago.”

Similar surveys of smaller landlords showed similar rates of nonpayment of rent.

Renters who have lost their jobs or are self-employed may not have the money to pay rent.

The NYT reports that “Nearly 10 million people have filed unemployment claims over the past two weeks.”

Even where local eviction moratoriums have been enacted, renters who have lost their jobs may be wondering how they will pay their back rent when the moratorium ends. If they do not have savings set aside for emergencies, how will they afford to pay the back rent when the moratorium expires?

The emergency federal assistance that has been passed which will help so many Americans unfortunately, does leaves some gaps in emergency federal housing assistance.

“This is little help to most moderate- and low-income tenants who live in market-rate developments, or small landlords whose loans are often held by private lenders and not backed by the federal government.”

The COVID-19 pandemic health crisis happens at a time when “Cost Burdened Renters in the U.S. Increase; Face Tight Housing Market.” In February 2020, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies’ (JCHS) reported that renters in New Jersey and every other state – in metropolitan and rural areas – pay very high shares of their income for housing. As this affordability crisis deepens, it’s affecting more moderate-income households.

Comparing rental housing data from 2008 to 2018, New Jersey saw an increase in cost burdened households. In New Jersey, in 2008, there were 231,000 moderately housing cost burdened households; 262,000 severely housing cost burdened households; and 1,039,000 total renter households. In 2018, there were 258,000 moderately housing cost burdened households; 322,000 severely housing cost burdened households and 1,171,0000 total renter households.

Cost burdened households who lose their jobs or who see a decrease in wages or hours worked will not be able to pay their rent during the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis