The National Low-Income Housing Coalition(NLIHC), a non-profit organization dedicated to ending America's affordable housing crisis, recently released it’s 2021 Out of Reach Report. The Out of Reach Report documents the gap between renters’ incomes and the cost of housing across the United States.
The report’s central statistic, the Housing Wage, is an estimate of the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home at US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD)’s fair market rent (FMR) without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs, a percentage which reflects the accepted standard of affordability. HUD’s FMR is an estimate of the 40th percentile of gross rents for a modestly priced rental home in a given area.
"NLIHC’s Out of Reach Report reemphasizes how critical it is that we remain focused on producing and preserving affordable housing for New Jersey residents." said Melanie R. Walter, Executive Director, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. "This is why the Murphy Administration and NJHMFA are proud to be implementing a comprehensive set of housing programs that will help ensure that all New Jerseyans have a fair chance to access affordable rental and homeownership opportunities in their communities." Since the beginning of the Murphy Administration, NJHMFA has financed the development of over 14,000 affordable and supportive housing units and has provided over 4,000 first time homebuyers with down payment assistance.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE 2021 OUT OF REACH REPORT INCLUDE:
- Minimum wage workers are not the only workers who struggle to pay the rent. The two-bedroom housing wage of $24.90 is more than nearly 60% of all wage and salary workers earn. The median hourly wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment is $21.22, and almost half of all workers earn less than that.
- The average minimum wage worker would have to work nearly 97 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental home or 79 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental home at the average fair market rent.
- Black, Native American, and Latino households have been especially hard hit by the pandemic and its attendant economic downturn—more likely to be infected, more likely to develop serious illness, and more likely to lose a job or income (CDC, 2020).
- Eleven of the twenty largest occupations in the United States pay a lower median hourly wage than what a full-time worker needs to earn to afford a modest apartment at the national average fair market rent.
SPECIFIC TO NEW JERSEY
- NLIHC found that New Jersey has the sixth highest state housing wage at $31.96, falling only behind California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and DC, while the average New Jersey renter wage was $19.38 according to the 2019 American Community Survey.
- Local labor market dynamics present different housing affordability issues across the state. For example, in Hudson County, the estimated hourly mean renter wage has pushed the estimate of full-time jobs needed to afford a 2BR at the county’s fair market rate close to 1. Meanwhile, in Monmouth County, the estimated hourly mean renter wage has pushed the estimate of full-time jobs needed to afford a 2BR at the county’s fair market rate past 2.
Addressing these discrepancies will take a multifaceted approach. In February 2019, Governor Murphy signed landmark $15 per hour minimum wage legislation, and this past year, Governor Murphy’s FY2022 budget and additional legislation allocated $73 million towards new programming that will further support the development of new affordable housing across the state.
To learn more about the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, please visit njhousing.gov. For more information on the Out of Reach Report and the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, visit nlihc.org.
NEW JERSEY HOUSING AND MORTGAGE FINANCE AGENCY (NJHMFA)
NJHMFA, an affiliate of DCA, is a statewide and national leader in providing and advocating for affordable housing and homeownership. The Agency provides financing to developers to create quality homes and provides mortgage loans and down payment and closing cost assistance to help homebuyers achieve their dream of homeownership. For more information about NJHMFA programs, visit njhousing.gov