New Report Shows 44 Percent Low-Income New Jerseyans Pay Over Half Their Income on Rent
Demand for affordable rentals outpaces supply according to Housing Spotlight


According to a national report, 44 percent of New Jersey’s low income renters end up spending more than half of their limited income on rent and utility costs. Nationwide, the average is 35 percent. Released today jointly by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the report shows how difficult it is for NJ’s low income renters to find housing that is affordable to them in the current rental market.

Low income households have incomes at or below 50 percent of area median income or $45,000 annually for a family of four. Housing Spotlight: The Affordable Rental Housing Gap Persists, shows that there were just 40 rental homes affordable and available for every 100 low income households in NJ in 2012, which is well below the national number of 58 homes for every 100 households. This ratio makes NJ the state with the fourth fewest affordable and available rental units for this income group. Statewide, there is a need for 280,621 more rental homes to close the affordable rental housing gap for low income renters.

“Everyone needs a home they can afford but factors like Superstorm Sandy, the foreclosure crisis, and a sluggish economy have created a strong demand that has outpaced supply,” said Network Senior Policy Coordinator Arnold Cohen. “In NJ you can have your pick of McMansions but if you’re in the market for a modest, affordable rental then it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Housing Spotlight also highlights how it is nearly impossible for renters with incomes at or below 15 percent of area median income to find housing that they can afford in NJ. These renters are considered deeply low income by NLIHC and they are most often elderly or disabled households living on fixed incomes, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There were just 17 affordable and available units for every 100 renter households in this income group, and 89 percent of these renters spent more than half of their income on housing costs.  

“Our state’s economy will only suffer if our hardworking families, seniors, and residents living with special needs can’t afford to stay in their homes,” said Cohen. “More income being spent on housing costs means less is being spent on activities that stimulate the economy. Our elected officials need to make long-term investments that will create opportunities for our residents and help grow the economy at the same time.”

Housing advocates point to New Jersey’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) as two methods of addressing the gap between the need for affordable homes and their availability. Funding for housing development through the State’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund has become nonexistent under the Christie Administration. At the federal level, the NHTF was authorized by Congress in 2008, but remains unfunded. The Network is an endorser of the “United for Homes,” a campaign to fund the NHTF with revenue raised from modifications to the mortgage interest deduction.

The Housing Spotlight: The Affordable Rental Housing Gap Persists report is available here. More information about the NHTF and the United for Homes campaign is available at

The Housing and Community Development Network supports New Jersey’s community development sector, collaborating with more than 250 members including community development corporations and other organizations to create affordable homes, expand economic opportunities, and build strong communities.

For more information:  Nina Arce
(609) 393-3752 x1200
(609) 789-7900
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