The cost of housing in New Jersey is high for everyone, but a new report finds lower-income families are being crushed by a shortage of affordable places to live.

Arnold Cohen, the senior policy advisor for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said the report finds that there are 1 affordable and available apartments for every 100 families earning $30,000 a year.

Tough to make ends meet

He said many poor families in Jersey are forced to spend half of their income on housing costs and that means “they’re doing without; they have to rely on food stamps and other support programs.”

Nevertheless, Cohen said getting even the basic essentials including food and clothing for all family members can be challenging.

Donate to the poor homeless, Still seen in society : concept of charity food for the poor
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He said to change this situation we need to be focusing on long-term solutions that will create more affordable housing in the Garden State.

The proposed fiscal year 2023 state budget directs $300 million from the American Rescue Plan money to support affordable housing across the state, which is a good start but it’s not enough, he said.

“New Jersey has a rental assistance program that hasn’t seen any increase in the last 10 years, we need to put more dollars into that," he said.

Cohen said the Congressional Build Back Better proposal would increase housing vouchers and improve expanded public housing and increase dollars for the National Housing Trust Fund.

“Hopefully the federal government will look at this again, it’s on hold right now, we need that kind of massive infusion of funding," he said. “Although finding an affordable place to live is difficult for folks at many different incomes, the lower income you go, the more extreme the problem is.”

He noted the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey has created a HouseNJ campaign to push for more federal dollars for affordable housing.

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The Gap report was prepared in partnership with the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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