There is NO affordable housing in Bergen County. Let me repeat this – there is NO affordable housing in Bergen County.
OK . . . I got your attention. Perhaps the better way to phrase it would be to say there is ALMOST NO affordable housing in Bergen County.
In our county and across New Jersey, there is a significant shortage of rental homes that are affordable and available to low-income households. Many of these households spend more than half of their income on housing. Because of this, poor households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice other necessities—like healthy food, childcare, transportation, and healthcare—so that they can pay the rent. And they are more likely to experience unstable housing situations and be evicted.
A mom with two to three children needs to make $60,000-$70,000 per year to live in Bergen County. That’s $30-$35 per hour – you’d have to work three minimum-wage full-time jobs to afford these apartments.
We read in the papers, or hear on TV or on the radio, that units are being built that are affordable for low-income families. That is a real stretch.
There is a building boom in our area. Many new apartment buildings are being constructed in Englewood and Hackensack and other towns. And while there may be a few units that are “affordable,” you should know that 300-400 square foot studio units are renting for $2,100+ per month . . . one- or two-bedroom units are in the $3,000 per month range. Most cannot afford those rents.
And the waiting list for the affordable units in those buildings far exceeds the number of apartments. In NJ, for every 100 low income renters there are only 32 affordable units.
We hear politicians talk a good talk – “We need and will provide affordable housing.” And they know that most of us will hear that and assume that will happen. But those are hollow promises. The words sound nice, but they are not realistic.
And we are not facing reality when we look the other way. The fact is this – our county, state, and country need to commit the financial resources to address the lack of affordable housing. If we won’t make that commitment, we will never end homelessness.
Paul R. Shackford
President of the Board of Trustees
PS—Next up . . . The Myth of Rapid Rehousing (there is NOTHING rapid about it). And the Myth of Declining Homelessness (the numbers are NOT going down, no matter what the government tells us)!