Affording a modest apartment's rent is harder in New Jersey than in most other states.

Arnold Cohen, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey
Arnold Cohen, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media)

According to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, New Jersey is the fifth-most expensive state for renting a two-bedroom apartment.

An hourly wage of $25.17, or an annual salary of $52,347, would be needed in order to afford the statewide average fair market rate of $1,309 per month. Only California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii and New York fare worse than the Garden State.

The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, responding to the national report, noted a minimum wage employee would need to work three full-time jobs in order to manage the costs of a two-bedroom home.

The study defined affordability as spending no more than 30 percent of income on housing. The Network's senior policy coordinator, Arnold Cohen, said many people in New Jersey are using more than half of their income on rent and utilities

"If you're paying over half your income, it just means that you have less money left over for all those essentials - medical care, groceries," Cohen said. "Unfortunately, for some folks, the jobs are not paying what they used to pay, meaning that housing is now less affordable."

Cohen also pointed to a reduction in state and federal funding for affordable housing opportunities.

He and other housing advocates gathered Tuesday in Edison at Kilmer Homes, an affordable housing development where 26 year old Paul Myers recently moved into with his son and fiancée.

After losing his sales job last year, Myers sold many of his belongings and eventually relocated into a homeless shelter. He was chosen through a lottery system to be screened for housing at Kilmer Homes, and has since found another job.

"I'm way happier," Myers said.

Thirty-four percent of New Jersey's households are renters, according to the report.

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