New Jersey is the sixth most expensive state nationwide for renters, according to a report released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey on July 15.
In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent in N.J., full-time workers need to earn the “housing wage” of $31.96 per hour, or $26.29 for a one-bedroom, the study found.
The housing wage is the hourly wage a worker must earn to afford a modest and safe rental without spending more than 30% of their income on housing, according to the 2021 Out of Reach report.
Nationwide, a renter needs to earn $24.90 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home or $20.40 per hour to afford a one-bedroom.
“The Garden State has long been an expensive place for lower income workers, but the last year and a half has been extremely difficult for residents,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “Too many families have been living at the edge of housing insecurity, and they are now threatened with homelessness, as eviction protections begin to expire. We are shocked and dismayed that the N.J. Supreme Court is forcing tenants to attend settlement conferences, even as the Murphy administration and the Legislature are disbursing emergency rental assistance and other protections. We urge the governor to sign the Rental Navigator and Tenant Eviction Protection bills without delay, to help ease this crisis.”
“Having safe, stable housing is essential to our post-pandemic recovery, but that is out of reach for too many New Jerseyans. While our state’s elected officials have worked tirelessly to provide expanded resources to ‘Build a Thriving NJ,’ like restoring the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, rents have continued to skyrocket,” said Berger.
In a recent Eagleton Poll, 87% of New Jersey voters considered the cost of housing a serious problem in the state. Rent control was ranked by many as one of their top choices for making homes more affordable.
A minimum wage earner in New Jersey must have 2.2 full-time jobs or work 88 hours per week at minimum wage to afford a modest one-bedroom home, the study found.
Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 created an economic crisis that pushed millions of low-wage workers out of work. Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.6 million extremely low-income renters were already spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs.
According to the study, a minimum-wage renter, working a 40-hour workweek can’t afford a two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent of $1,662 or $1,367 for a one-bedroom. A minimum wage earner in New Jersey must have 2.2 full-time jobs or work 88 hours per week at minimum wage to afford a modest one-bedroom home, the study found.
“Housing is a basic human need and should be regarded as an unconditional human right,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. “With the highest levels of job losses since the Great Depression and a pandemic that continues to spread, low-income workers and communities of color are disproportionately harmed. The enduring problem of housing unaffordability ultimately calls for bold investments in housing programs that will ensure stability in the future. Without significant federal intervention, housing will continue to be out of reach.