Out of Reach Rents Keeps NJ in Top Ten Least Affordable Places
Advocates urge housing affordability and stability interventions to make rents more affordable


To afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in New Jersey, full-time workers need to earn $38.08 per hour. This is NJ’s “Housing Wage” for 2024 according to Out of Reach, a report published jointly today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ (the Network). The average worker in the Garden State earns $23.70 per hour, making our state the seventh most expensive place for renters.

Released annually, Out of Reach illuminates the gulf between wages and what people need to earn to afford their rents and shows how affordable rental homes are out of reach for millions of low-wage workers and other families. The report’s “Housing Wage” is an estimate of the hourly wage full-time workers must earn to afford a rental home at fair market rent without spending more than 30 percent of their incomes. According to this year’s report, the national 2024 Housing Wage is $32.11 per hour for a modest two-bedroom rental home and $26.74 for a modest one-bedroom rental home.

“People need and deserve access to a safe place they can afford to call home,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “Rents have been spiraling out of reach for countless households across the country. Here in NJ, we've had an unprecedented level of resources to expand affordable home options but rising rents are hindering that progress, harming families and our economy.”

Higher minimum wages alone will not solve the housing affordability crisis. In NJ, working at the minimum wage of $15.13 per hour, for example, a wage earner must have 2.1 full-time jobs or work 84 hours per week at minimum wage to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment. For a modest two-bedroom apartment, a person would need to work 2.5 full-time jobs or work 101 hours per week.

The report points to a number of policy prescriptions for addressing the affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Congress must prioritize long-term housing solutions, such as Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), that address the gap between incomes and rents documented in the report. The “Ending Homelessness Act of 2023,” for example, would ensure rental assistance vouchers are universally available to all eligible households in need of assistance, while the bipartisan “Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act of 2023” would create 250,000 new housing vouchers targeted to low-income families with young children and provide mobility counseling services to help families find housing options in neighborhoods of their choice. Congress must also invest in solutions to expand and preserve the supply of affordable housing by passing the “Housing Crisis Response Act of 2023” and reduce the power imbalance between landlords and tenants by enacting federal renter protections.

In NJ, advocates are urging legislators to protect and grow the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) which is increasingly being utilized to fund housing security, stability and affordability programs in addition to meeting its main goal of building more affordable homes. To preserve the intended use of the Trust Fund and ensure that construction and rehabilitation resources remain available to fill the need for more affordable homes to be built, the Network offered the following recommendations:

  • Expand the realty transfer fee: Expand the fee, the primary funding source for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, so that it is progressive and collects more revenue from the sale of very expensive homes. This revenue could be used to support first-time/first-generation homeownership opportunities, like the programs at the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, and others to help address the racial wealth gap.
  • Lower the rent: Enact a luxury landlord corporate tax which would be a fee on for-profit, luxury developments that could be forgiven or refunded if the landlord provides affordable units through inclusionary zoning and/or keeps rent increases at a reasonable rate.
  • Make evictors pay: Increase the eviction filing fee, currently at $50, as a disincentive to landlords and as a mechanism to expand revenue for eviction diversion and housing counseling programs.

“These are bold ideas that take a fair approach to a crisis that’s stifling our economy and putting more households on the brink of homelessness,” said Berger. “Housing is the largest driver of inflation, it’s time to implement meaningful solutions to address housing affordability and stability so our residents and our economy can thrive.”

“Housing is a basic human need and should be regarded an unconditional human right,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “This year’s Out of Reach report shows that despite rising wages, cooling inflation, and low unemployment, low-wage workers and other renters continue to struggle with the high cost of rent. Addressing the challenge requires long-term federal investments in affordable housing. As evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal policies and resources play a pivotal role in establishing a robust housing safety net, preventing evictions and homelessness, and mitigating housing instability among renters with the lowest incomes.”

For additional information, and to download the report, visit: www.nlihc.org/oor or to access the New Jersey data, visit: www.hcdnnj.org/oor. To view today’s Out of Reach announcement from the Network visit, https://youtu.be/6nwtYOo_GWo.

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 270 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 www.hcdnnj.org.