🏠 NJ one of the most expensive states for renters
🏠 A new report finds some landlords are gouging renters
🏠 Many lower income residents need 2.4 full-time jobs to pay rent

If it seems to you like rental costs in New Jersey are skyrocketing, you’re right.

A new report finds New Jersey has one of the most expensive rental markets in the nation.

The annual Out of Reach report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition ranks New Jersey as the seventh most expensive state in the nation for renters.

Out of reach

Nina Rainiero, the director of communications for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said the report shows affordable rental homes are out of reach for many lower-wage workers and their families.

“In New Jersey, a full-time worker needs to earn $33.50 per hour to afford a modest two- bedroom apartment,” she said.

The figure is based on someone spending 30% of their salary on rent.

She said even before the pandemic, many New Jersey residents were struggling to get by.

“So, then you add in people losing their jobs, loss of wages, inflation, rising prices for groceries, utilities, it’s extremely difficult," said Rainiero.

Gettystock / thinkstock
Gettystock / thinkstock

Cutthroat landlords

Rainiero said a significant part of the problem in the Garden State is landlords who are increasing rates by significant amounts, adding that some tenants are seeing increases between 20% to 30% of their rents.

“Imagine you’re paying $1,400 a month for a one bedroom before the pandemic and now you’re being asked to pay $1,900 a month,” Rainiero said.

Rainiero noted officials in Newark have recently passed an ordinance prohibiting landlords from raising rents more than 5% a year, and in Jersey City local leaders are poised to pass a "right to counsel" ordinance to help protect renters from getting gouged.

Families Lose Homes As Weak Economy, Housing Crisis Drags On
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

95 hour work weeks

Rainiero said if someone earns minimum wage, "a New Jersey resident would have to work 95 hours per week or 2.4 full-time jobs to afford a modest 2 bedroom.” Minimum wage in New Jersey is $14.13 an hour.

She said as rents keep climbing higher “we’re seeing more eviction filings, people are just, they’re teetering on the brink of homelessness.”

She noted while rents have shot higher pandemic-era benefit programs like emergency rental assistance, additional allocations from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and child care tax benefits have ended.

Rainiero said this is a very serious concern, “especially we have such a shortage of affordable and available homes.”

She said the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is calling for greater federal investments in the National Housing Trust Fund and Housing Choice vouchers, and for New Jersey officials to fully fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to expand lower cost housing opportunities for renters.

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