AFFORDABLE HOUSING NEED GROWING
The number of individuals and families in Newark spending more than the recommended 30 percent of their income on rent is rising, pointing to a dire need for more affordable housing in New Jersey’s largest city, according to a new report.
Newark Kids Count 2014, released by Advocates for Children of New Jersey, found that median Newark rents rose 6 percent from 2008 to 2012, with the average apartment rent being $927 in 2012, up from $878. That means 59 percent of Newark renters faced higher-then-recommended housing costs, up from 54 percent.
“The data does not lie and tells us what we have to do to improve…” said L’Tanya Williamson, director of the Newark Department of Child and Family Well-Being.
Within the city of Newark, New Community is the largest private provider of housing for persons with low and extremely low incomes, typically those individuals who find themselves priced out of market rate rentals. Mary Rosa Mendoza, a resident of New Community Commons Family who works in a beauty shop, is now paying less than half of the $800 a month rent she struggled to shell out in the three-family house where she and her two daughters previously resided. Today, they couldn’t be happier in their affordable three-bedroom New Community townhouse, with Mendoza saying she simply “loves it here.”
“I like the house and how New Community treats its people,” she said. “We feel very happy where we live.”
New Community started with the building of affordable housing 45 years ago and today continues to place a high priority in ensuring that people with low and extremely low incomes can find rental units that do not place such a financial burden on their households, noted Richard Rohrman, CEO of New Community.
“This report indicates that affordable housing in Newark continues to be a major problem, which is why New Community has not gotten out of the housing business. Too many families would fall between the cracks and end up homeless if NCC were not around,” he said.
Of New Community’s more than 1,691 rental units in Newark—NCC also has rental housing in Orange and Jersey City– the majority of them (at least 95 percent) are occupied by extremely low income individuals and families. In fact, many NCC families fall even below the “extremely low income” category in real income. For a family of four, extremely low income is defined, according to HUD guidelines, as having an income of $26,750.
Douglas Angoff, Director of Real Estate Development for New Community, said the non-profit is planning to build even more affordable housing in Newark.
The first new project, the replacement of NCC’s first housing development, Homes Court, formerly located on Morris Avenue, is scheduled to be presented to the Newark Planning Board in the second or third quarter of 2014.