(The Center Square) – A full-time worker in New Jersey would need to earn $31.96 per hour to afford the “fair market” cost of a two-bedroom rental home in the state.
That’s according to the new Out of Reach report published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit, which said New Jersey was the sixth most expensive place for renters in the country. Nationally, California topped the list, followed by Hawaii and Massachusetts.
According to the report, the average cost of a two-bedroom rental home in New Jersey was $1,662 per month, while a one-bedroom cost stood at $1,367 per month. The minimum wage in New Jersey is $12 per hour, while the average renter wage is $19.38 per hour.
“New Jersey is one of the most expensive housing markets, rental or ownership, in the United States,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a news briefing this week, according to a transcript.
“There’s all-time high relief on housing and rental assistance in our budget in a lot of the federal money we’ve distributed,” the governor added. “There’s not enough supply, so when we talk to developers about a particular development, we have a laser obsession and focus on the percentage of that development that will have affordable housing units, whether they be rentals or for sale. Again, this has been building for decades, and we’re doing everything we can to address the reality.”
The Jersey City area was the most expensive in the state, requiring a housing wage of $37.65 per hour. It was followed by Bergen-Passaic ($34), Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon ($33.71), Monmouth-Ocean ($31.77) and Newark ($31.60).
The fiscal 2022 budget New Jersey recently enacted includes more than $200 million for Murphy’s “housing affordability strategy.” The money will fund and speed approvals of new affordable housing units and provide mortgage and down payment help for low-income New Jerseyans.
Additionally, more than $2 billion in federal funds has been allocated to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, provide emergency rental assistance, help utility arrearages and prevent homelessness, according to state officials.
“The good news is New Jersey’s hot right now. It’s been increasingly so and it is right now, and there are a lot of people who want to raise their family here,” Murphy said. “There are a lot of companies that want to start here or move operations here. That’s great, but it further exacerbates a challenge – a very challenging housing market that was already among the most challenging.”