From NJ Spotlight:
New Jersey’s next governor faces daunting housing problems that are widespread and complex, ranging from a lack of affordable homes in walkable communities to a glut of McMansions in suburbs that are no longer in vogue — and little available land on which to fix the imbalance, a new report warns.
The fifth in The Fund for New Jersey’s “Crossroads NJ” series of reports aimed at informing public debate during this election year has a long title that sums up a good portion of the state’s housing problems: “Communities of Opportunity: New Jerseyans Need More Affordable, Convenient, and Safe Places to Call Home.” (The organization is a funder of NJ Spotlight.)
“There are just simply not the resources available to build the homes that we need and the reason for that is a completely out-of-balance housing market,” said Staci Berger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “There’s lot of development that builds very large homes for very wealthy people but does not build starter homes and homes that are available for working families, seniors, and people with disabilities. And we certainly have a huge problem with the availability of rental apartments that families can move into.”
There are economic benefits to resolving the crisis, according to the report. . The construction of multifamily homes brings in millions in taxes and creates jobs. Affordable-housing development and community revitalization work done by the state’s community development organizations added $12 billion to the state’s economy over the past quarter century. And the $200 million the state invested in permanent supportive housing beginning in 2005 created both one-time and permanent job and increases in state income and sales taxes and local property taxes.
The report does a thorough job in explaining the depth and breadth of the housing problem.
“For New Jersey’s nearly 9 million residents, housing costs are among the highest in the nation, evictions occur at an unprecedented rate, and residential foreclosures outpace the rest of the country,” the report states. “Development over the last several decades has brought the state close to build-out and the resulting sprawl has separated economic opportunities and affordable homes. Today, too many New Jerseyans struggle to find an affordable, convenient, and safe place to call home.”
More than three of every 10 renters spend at least half of their gross income on rent and utilities, making New Jerseyans the second most-burdened in the nation by that measure. Last year, there were only 29 affordable apartments available for every 100 families with less than $30,000 in income.