NJ Housing Market Criticized for Imbalance [AUDIO]
A number of New Jersey counties rank among the wealthiest nationwide, yet thousands upon thousands of state residents struggle to afford a place they can call home. Some advocates blame New Jersey's housing industry for a slow recovery from the recession.
"New Jersey has a housing market that is entirely out of balance," said Staci Berger, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. "It's as if we went to the supermarket and all that was available was caviar and filet mignon, and we really need some Hamburger Helper and some tuna fish."
Berger cited a lack of enough starter homes in New Jersey, as well as affordable, multi-family rental apartments.
Renting has become an option for many financially-troubled New Jerseyans, but in some locations, renting a home can be as expensive as owning one. An anti-poverty summit in South Brunswick this week noted that a person looking to rent a two-bedroom apartment at a fair market price would have to earn over $50,000 a year.
Berger said the state's "imbalance" puts New Jersey at a competitive disadvantage, and the state's employment and overall economic picture can't fully improve until the housing crisis is addressed.
"Not everybody can afford to live in a McMansion," Berger added. "We need places for seniors and places for young families, and we just don't have that kind of development happening here, and we don't have policies encouraging it."