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NJ Rents Among Highest in the Nation [AUDIO]

A new report finds New Jersey has some of the highest rents of any state in the nation.

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The report, Out of Reach 2014, released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, shows the typical two- bedroom apartment in New Jersey costs $1,296 a month, the fourth-highest of any state.

“That’s a problem for our residents and it’s a problem for our economy,” said Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network.

She said in order to be able to afford that rent, a family needs to earn nearly $52,000 a year.

“A minimum wage worker earning $8.25 an hour would have to work 121 weeks per year, year-round, to be able to afford that apartment,” she said. “This kind of housing situation makes it very difficult for families to get ahead, you’re looking at people having to work three full-time jobs to keep a roof over their head in a rental home that’s safe and affordable for their families.”

Berger also said Superstorm Sandy made New Jersey’s rental market even more expensive.

“It tightened it dramatically,” she said. “Before Superstorm Sandy, Monmouth and Ocean counties had a vacancy rate of about 10 percent, and now they’re looking at rates of about zero. We know many people are still couch-surfing, they’re living in places that are not safe or not long-term solutions — like the motel that unfortunately caught fire last week.”

Berger suggested the state look at its rental assistance program.

“Unfortunately the governor’s budget appears to cut our state rental assistance program by $2.5 million,” Berger said. “Unless you’re making a lot of money it is really, really difficult to afford to rent an apartment in our state. We’re at the top of a number of lists we don’t want to be on: we have high unemployment, we have high foreclosures and we have very high rental rates, so we need a housing and an economic policy that helps people get back on their feet.”

The report found only Hawaii, California, and Maryland have more expensive rents than New Jersey.

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