🏠 New Jersey is facing an affordable rent crisis that keeps getting worse
🏠 A new report finds most very low-income families can’t afford a decent apartment
🏠 Experts say expenses have sky-rocketed over the past few years

Many people are aware New Jersey has high housing costs but a new report finds things continue to quickly get worse, and the Garden State now has a shortage of a quarter of a million affordable rental homes for low-income families.

According to Arnold Cohen, the senior policy advisor for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, finding affordable housing, especially for extremely low-income renter households, has become almost impossible over the past two years.

He said when the pandemic began protections were put in place so people could not be evicted, and many families got financial assistance to help them pay their rent, but that help no longer exists.

The situation is worse

“We do not have that help anymore, and so with restrictions off and with the tremendous increase in rents we seen, it is making the situation worse, especially for people of lower incomes,” he said.

He said three out of four very low-income families are spending half of their total income on rent “so if you’re spending three-quarters of your income just to have stable housing that leaves very little for all the other necessities in life.”

Hand open empty an wallet. Poor or personal financial problem concept.

He said for every 100 people looking for affordable rentals in the Garden State there are only 31 available apartments.

“That means for most folks it’s almost impossible for them to find something that they can afford, consequently they’re paying over half their income for rent.”

Cohen said last year, the Network launched HouseNJ, a campaign that aims to achieve the large-scale, sustained investments and reforms necessary so that households with the lowest incomes have an affordable place to call home.

Addressing the problem

He said we have to make sure “money that is there in the governor’s budget for the production of more homes that are affordable is used for that purpose and doesn’t get diverted for anything else.”

He added that policies must also be put in place to ensure escalating rents don’t shoot so high that people can no longer afford them and repairs in rentals are made in a timely fashion so people can live in decent conditions.

The report, titled "The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes," was released by the National Low Income House Coalition and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.

The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 275 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities.

Most affordable places to live in New Jersey

SmartAsset released a study analyzing the most affordable places to live in New Jersey. The eighth annual study weighed several factors, including taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and home costs relative to the local median income.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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