The data shows that the median rent rose by 10 percent or more in more than 100 New Jersey municipalities. In Hudson County, rents were 5.3 percent higher in 2012 through 2016 compared to 2007-2011.
The number of rental homes in the county increased by 3 percent. However, the overwhelming majority of new housing construction is marketed to high-income residents as “luxury” housing. While housing for low to moderate income people is in demand, not much is being built as developers are betting that renting to high-income residents will turn greater profits.
Towns like East Newark, Secaucus, Harrison, and Weehawken increased their rental stock more than 10 percent, but had fewer rental homes to start with. Hoboken and Union City added around 5 percent to their rental stock, West New York around 4 percent, Jersey City added a little over 2 percent, and Bayonne added barely any, with a 0.1 percent change. With multiple rental developments in Bayonne expected to be completed in 2018 and 2019, that may change soon.
Rents that shot up the most around the county were Hoboken (10.2 percent) and North Bergen (9.3 percent).
The high cost of shelter
According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s 2017 “Out of Reach” report, which documents the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing, the average two-bedroom apartment in Hudson County ($1,519 per month) can be afforded with income from three and a half full-time minimum-wage jobs. A person taking home the annual median income ($63,000) can afford that apartment, but more than 40 percent of families in the county take home less than median income. Meanwhile, the rate of poverty remains in the mid-teens.
While high rents are a problem for those with lower than average incomes, many people living in places like Hoboken, which has a median income well into the six figures, do not struggle as much. For instance, rent in Hoboken increased by more than 10 percent, but the percentage of households paying more than 35 percent of income on housing stayed the same, at around 22 percent.
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.