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new jersey department of environmental protection  


Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 19

Additional  Decent Housing Indicators

20 - Home Prices vs. Income

21 - Housing Choice

Rent Affordability

Percent of New Jersey renters able to afford fair market rent with 30 percent of their income: Little recent change

  Things to think about 

To be considered affordable, rent must be 30 percent or less of income.



Housing is a fundamental need of all people. Families who struggle to find affordable housing have to use their energy and resources for meeting this basic need, rather than for other necessities like food and medical care, or discretionary spending including further education. At the end of the 1980s, about half of us who rent were able to afford market rates using 30 percent of our income. The percentage of us who can afford to rent has risen somewhat. Still, affordable rent eludes many.


Affordable housing is essential to the economic well-being of our citizens and the economic success of our state. Businesses have difficulty maintaining a workforce without affordable places for workers to live. Our economy is held back when significant numbers of us have little money to spend and invest due to the high cost of housing.


Substandard housing can pose environmental health and safety problems. Housing is also part of the human environment. Living in shabby or unaffordable housing makes it difficult for us to feel connected to our environment and take responsibility for its well-being.


Housing is the backbone of a community. If housing is too expensive or of poor quality, it is harder for residents to become connected to that community and develop a sense of belonging. In many of our poorer areas, little money is left over after the rent is paid, so few resources are available to pay for quality education and social programs that can aid in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Knowledge Gaps

The definition of "fair market rent" has changed during the period in which data were collected. This definition should be standardized. We do not have data to ascertain whether some people might prefer different thresholds of affordability. Also, these data cover the entire state and so do not show the considerable regional variations in both incomes and rental prices.

Data Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 27, 2007

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