A new report finds New Jersey has some of the least affordable rents in the nation.

Arnold Cohen, the senior policy director for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said the study, conducted by the Network and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, finds New Jersey is the 5th most expensive state in the nation for rental housing.

Two afford a two-bedroom apartment at $1,500 a month, a family has to earn $60,000 a year.

He said as rental costs keep increasing, fewer low wage earners are able to afford a decent place to live.

“For example, somebody working at minimum wage would have to work 130 hours, or over three full-time jobs, to be able to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment," he said. "That’s impossible.”

Cohen says federal assistance for low-income renters, called Section 8 housing vouchers, has been scaled back in recent years. While New Jersey offers some assistance for low income renters as well, it’s been held flat for the past decade.

He said money that was earmarked for New Jersey’s Low Income Trust Fund, which is supposed to help pay to new lower income homes and refurbish houses and apartments for lower income residents, including seniors and the disabled, has not been funded for years.

Money for the Trust Fund, which comes from a portion of the realty transfer fee in New Jersey, was diverted to other state programs, but Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed state budget calls for restoring an estimated $50 million to the Trust Fund.

According to the report, the counties with most expensive modest two-bedroom apartments in New Jersey are Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset at $1,746 a month.

The counties with the lowest monthly cost for a two-bedroom apartment are Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem at $1,200 a month.

The report finds for renters, only Hawaii, California, New York, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., is more expensive than New Jersey.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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