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Most New Jerseyans Say Housing Costs are a Serious Problem; Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Housing Access

Two-thirds of New Jerseyans support using Affordable Housing Trust Fund solely as intended; Residents want statewide rent control, increase in rental assistance

Published on June 26, 2021

Almost nine in 10 New Jerseyans consider the cost of housing to be a “very serious” (55 percent) or “somewhat serious” (32 percent) problem, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in collaboration with the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. Similarly, eight in 10 feel it is “very” (49 percent) or “somewhat” (32 percent) difficult to find an affordable place to rent in New Jersey based on what they have experienced or heard.

Just 16 percent say their monthly housing costs are “very” affordable, while 41 percent say “somewhat”; four in 10, on the other hand, feel their costs are either “not very affordable” (26 percent) or “not affordable at all” (13 percent).

Fifty-eight percent say that the coronavirus pandemic did not impact their household’s ability to make monthly rent or mortgage payments; 31 percent say that the pandemic made it more difficult, and just 7 percent said less difficult.

“Overall, there is widespread concern about housing costs in New Jersey, but there are stark demographic differences when it comes to who is personally affected,” said Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Notable disparities emerge in perceptions of renting difficulties and reported affordability of personal monthly housing costs by race, ethnicity, and whether someone owns or rents.”

Black residents (56 percent) and Hispanic residents (51 percent) are slightly more likely than white residents (45 percent) to say it is “very difficult” to find an affordable place to rent in the Garden State, feel a greater strain when it comes to their own housing costs (20 percent and 19 percent say “not at all affordable,” versus 10 percent), and are more likely to say that the pandemic made it more difficult to afford their monthly housing costs (39 percent and 37 percent versus 23 percent).

Renters are more likely than homeowners to feel that the cost of housing is a “very serious” problem (61 percent versus 53 percent), that finding an affordable place to rent is “very difficult” (53 percent versus 46 percent), and that their housing costs are “not very” or “not at all” affordable (48 percent versus 33 percent). Renters are also almost twice as likely as homeowners to say they felt the impact of the pandemic (45 percent compared to 24 percent); almost seven in 10 homeowners, on the other hand, say that the pandemic had no impact on their ability to make monthly mortgage payments.

“New Jersey’s relentless housing crisis deepened during the pandemic, and it did so in much the same way as the COVID virus – disproportionately harming Black and Brown households,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ. “Housing affordability continues to be a widespread concern across every NJ community, but these results drive home that renters, especially Black and Brown households, have experienced the combined economic toll of the pandemic and housing shortage much more deeply,” said Berger. “A strong and equitable recovery for all depends on our state leaders investing resources to create the affordable homes our residents need and to take strong steps to make homes more affordable for those earning the least.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,094 adults contacted by live interviewers on landlines and cell phones from May 21–29. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

Newsroom Editor