No Relief for Renters: Study Ranks NJ Seventh Most Expensive State in U.S.
Advocates urge legislators to pass “The People’s Bill” to prevent eviction, foreclosure crisis;
Action Fund in formation to boost support for housing issues


According to the annual, national report comparing rental housing costs released today, New Jersey is the seventh most expensive state for renters. The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes people earning the lowest incomes, and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network), the statewide community development association.

In order to afford a modest two-bedroom home in the Garden State, a family must earn an hourly wage of $29.69, far more than the state’s average hourly wage of $19.10 or the current $11 per hour minimum wage. That means, at the mean wage, an individual would have to work 62 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent (FMR) or 108 hours per week for a worker earning minimum wage.

“Trying to make the rent has always been a struggle for New Jerseyans and the coronavirus pandemic has rendered it almost impossible,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network). “Right now, families are overwhelmed meeting their basic needs as the pandemic has ravaged our neighborhoods and turned our world upside. This data was compiled before ‘stay at home’ became a prescription to stop the spread of the virus. Now more than ever, housing affordability literally saves lives.”

The annual Out of Reach report documents the Housing Wage (the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest and safe rental home without spending more than 30 percent of his or her income on housing costs) for all states and counties in the country. Among the 30 top occupations in NJ, 20 pay median wages less than the housing wage. This includes teacher assistants, nursing assistants, accounting clerks, home health aides, truck drivers, security guards, laborers, food preparation workers, receptionists, cashiers and others.

“More than 9,000 families initiated the application process for the $1 million Emergency Housing Assistance Fund we created to help tenants keep their homes and supplement the moratorium on evictions I signed back in March,” said the Honorable Ras J. Baraka, mayor of the City of Newark. “78 percent of Newark residents are renters, many of whom work in occupations that are the backbone of our economy and most effected by the pandemic. Out of Reach represents the struggle they face every day even before COVID-19.”

“While I stay home with the children, my husband works two full time jobs and it's barely enough to afford our two bedroom apartment," said New Brunswick resident and mother of three Odelia Hernandez. “Now all of a sudden in the middle of the pandemic, our landlord just informed us that we have to begin paying for water and parking. Also, many landlords in the area don't live here and it's difficult to communicate with them to get things fixed in the apartment so we have to pay out of pocket to make the repairs ourselves. We're asking for help because as tenants we're working hard to pay our bills and rent. We're not asking for anything free, just fairness.”

Atlantic City resident and single mother Andrea Brooks added, "I pay almost $2000 a month plus utilities, work two jobs and sometimes I pick up extra shifts, paying for childcare is difficult too, it's a struggle.”

Housing advocates are urging state and federal legislators to enact measures that help keep people in their homes during and long after the coronavirus pandemic. Advocates point to the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) which would provide $100 billion rental assistance as well as a national uniform moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. The bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and awaits consideration in U.S. Senate. In New Jersey, housing advocates are asking the Assembly to consider the "People's Bill" which would offer rent relief and mortgage forbearance for NJ residents. The measure has received Senate approval and now awaits consideration in the Assembly.

"Out of reach housing costs and an economically crippling pandemic are building up to a perfect storm that's going to create a tidal wave of evictions and foreclosures,” said John Restrepo, Network board chair and director of housing and community development for Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation. “We can’t afford to ride out the storm, state and federal lawmakers have to act now to prevent people from losing their homes. There’s a proposal in place with growing Assembly support that can help avoid this oncoming disaster, it just needs to be brought up for a vote and signed into law.”

The Network is launching a 501(c)(4) to boost advocacy efforts on public policy proposals that affect New Jersey tenants and homeowners like the HEROES Act and the “People’s Bill.” The Housing and Community Development Action Fund promotes public engagement and education to build a thriving NJ where everyone can afford to live in a safe and healthy home.

The New Jersey data from Out of Reach 2020, including county data, is available at For the complete report, please visit

About the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 250 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit

For more information: Nina Rainiero
(609) 789-7900
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