NJ Ranking in Affordability Study Exacerbated by Sandy
Out of Reach report emphasizes need for more affordable rentals

3/11/2013

According to the annual, national report released today, New Jersey is the fourth most expensive place in the nation to rent a two bedroom apartment; only Hawaii, New York, and California lead the nation as least affordable.  A New Jersey family must earn an hourly wage of $24.84 in order afford to rent on a two-bedroom home in a state with unprecedented unemployment rates and devastated by natural disaster.  

“Prior to Sandy, finding an affordable place to live for the many low-income households we serve was difficult," said Maria Nikolatos, program coordinator for Catholic Charities Disaster Response Program. "Now, with the number of Shore rentals decreased by Sandy’s destruction, affordable rental homes are almost impossible to find in Ocean and Monmouth counties."

To gauge affordability, the NLIHC and the Network both use the widely accepted measure that no more than 30% of a person's income should be spent on housing.  As the Fair Market Rent (FMR) in the state for a two bedroom rental is $1,292, a family must earn $51,672 annually in order to afford a two bedroom rental.  Using that formula, a minimum wage worker would have to work 137 hours or 3.4 full time jobs per week, 52 weeks per year to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.  

In areas impacted by Superstorm Sandy, a recent report from Enterprise Community Partners found that of those who applied for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in New Jersey 43 percent were renters. Out of that, 67 percent earn less than $30,000 annually.

"This reduction in affordable rental units as a result of Sandy, coupled with flat funding for the State Rental Assistance Program is a major concern for Catholic Charities," said Joyce Campbell, associate executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. "With fewer homes, rising housing costs and more of our residents are at risk of homelessness, we are facing a perfect storm of our own making. Catholic Charities strongly urges the governor and legislature to include homes for low-income persons in any rebuilding plans being made.”    

"New Jersey has the fourth highest unemployment rate and continues to be the fourth most expensive place to rent, at the same time that we have one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. We need better housing policies that create more homes people can afford, so there is a greater supply and a variety of choices for New Jerseyans," said Staci Berger, director of policy and advocacy. "We hope that Governor Christie’s proposal to rebuild Sandy affected communities will create more affordable homes, especially places to rent.  In addition, we need our state budget to support this development, by continuing SRAP, and housing production resources to ensure that our all of our residents can rebuild and rebound after the economic tsunami and Superstorm Sandy."

Results of the 2013 Out of Reach report was released at an event today at the Visitation Relief Center operated by the Church of the Visitation in Brick. The church has been at the center of assisting survivors and has worked with the Diocese of Trenton and Catholic Charities to provide a comprehensive set of services including free food, clothing, and financial assistance. The relief center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and case management and counseling services are available on site.  

The report, Out of Reach 2013, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, D.C.-based housing policy organization, and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. The report provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area, combined non metropolitan area, and county in the country.

The New Jersey data from Out of Reach 2013 is also available at http://bit.ly/lIegW1. For the complete report, please visit WWW.NLIHC.ORG/OOR/2013.

For more information: Nina Arce
Housing & Community Development Network of NJ
(609) 393-3752 x12
narce@hcdnnj.org
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