In a comprehensive report released in early October by Forbes Advisors, entitled “The Best And Worst US Cities For Renters,” Newark, NJ, is the worst place to rent a dwelling in the state. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/renters-insurance/best-cities-for-renters/ .
The Brick City ranked last on a list of comparably sized urban cities. The authors of the report examined several factors in composing the metrics list, including:
*Average rent prices for 1- and 2-bedroom apartments
*Year-over-year average rent percentage change
*Median household income
*Crimes per 100,00 people
*The percentage of units with parking
*The percentage of dog-friendly rentals
Homelessness in Newark
With a population of about 300,000, Newark was at the bottom of a list of 96 comparable cities across the country. For example, Newark has a high percentage of rent-burdened residents with more than half (55.7%) of Newark residents spending at least 30% of their income on housing and more than one-third experiencing homelessness, chronic medical conditions, or both.https://njurbannews.com/2023/08/28/newark-homelessness-part-1/
The report noted that the average median income for residents is about $41,335 per year. And per data from the Pew Research Institute, a family of four earning $40,000 a year or less and spending 30% or more on housing is considered low-income and “rent burdened.”
Add to the mix that the average one bedroom is about 610 square feet and a two bedroom is approximately 867 square feet. The average rent price in New Jersey is about $2,500 per month. The most affordable place to live in New Jersey is the city of Camden
Mayor Baraka Outlines Changes
To combat the ongoing issues related to homelessness and the lack of affordable housing for Newark residents, Mayor Ras Baraka has announced several initiatives. In an interview in August, Baraka said outreach efforts include building affordable housing and “low barrier” income units, including single occupancy dwellings.
“There is no excuse for the richest country in the world to have any residents living hand to mouth on the streets,” he said.
In September, Baraka announced an initiative that gives Newark residents first dibs on affordable housing units. “At a time when corporate LLC’s are turning affordable housing into high-cost rentals, this amendment expands Newark’s housing innovation,” he said. The legislation creates a process by which low-income households in Newark are chosen for placement in the income-restricted units. Baraka added the plan will help reduce the rate of homelessness in the city and provide affordable housing for the most vulnerable and at-risk Newark residents.
In a related matter, earlier this year L+M Development Partners, the owners of the Georgia King Village, a 400-plus, low-income housing complex in the city’s West Ward, was sued and ordered by city officials to make much-needed improvements on the property.
At a Newark City Council meeting on October 17, residents said their complaints of rodent and insect infestations, sewage problems, flooding, no heat or hot water and the lack of security continue to plague residents in the building.
“Residents made numerous complaints about the poor, horrible conditions in which residents live,” said Gee Cureton, a long-time tenant of the building and a community activist. “We have presented issues that were totally ignored and not dealt wih.”
In a statement to the press, Lisa Gomez, CEO of L+M Development, said, “We let down our residents and we have taken accountability. We have apologized and we are working diligently to make it right.”
Gomez added that additional personnel and funding resources have been implemented and that positive changes to the property will continue but will take time. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment at Georgia King Village is $1,293. A two-bedroom stands at $1,552.