From the Press of Atlantic City:
A new survey has found that state residents continue to pay some of the highest rents in America, making it difficult to afford an apartment on average wages.
The survey, by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, found New Jersey overall to be the third-most expensive place to rent in the nation, behind Hawaii and California, with a $52,081 yearly household income needed in order to afford a two-bedroom unit. The figures assume 30 percent of income is used for housing.
The most expensive housing in the state was generally concentrated closer to New York, however, with local housing costs less expensive.
The housing crisis of recent years has had a particularly profound effect in certain parts of the country, said the report “Out of Reach 2012: America’s Forgotten Housing Crisis.”
In rural areas and other places with higher unemployment, the report said, flattened incomes have made it more difficult to afford housing. At the same time, wealthier regions have seen more families thrown into the rental market, driving up prices in places that have historically seen less rental housing. The report said 33 percent of state households were renters from 2006 to 2010.
This should not surprise anyone, said Russell Graves, executive director of Consumer Credit and Budget Counseling of Marmora, a nonprofit consumer financial counseling agency that works with clients in Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic counties.
“This is the most expensive state to live in,” Graves said. “We have the highest taxes, and those taxes have to be filtered down to the renters.”
While the rents may be lowest in these three southernmost counties, Graves said the poverty and unemployment rates were also among the highest.
“This report is just another example of how expensive New Jersey is,” said Conor G. Fennessy, vice president of government affairs for the New Jersey Apartment Association, which represents apartment owners. “It’s not just an expensive place to live in,” Fennessy said. “It’s an expensive place to do business in.”