Richard Naughton moved from his home country of England to New Jersey recently to work as a chef for the renowned restaurateur David Burke in a job that he says has lived up to the hype. He can’t imagine doing anything else.
But he’s run into an obstacle. As he searches for an apartment close enough to Burke’s restaurants in Union Beach and Rumson and big enough for himself, his fiancée and a dog, he is coming up empty.
While the state boasts the nation’s highest median household income, $96,346, there are signs more workers are digging deeper to afford housing. Nearly a third of homeowners and half of renters in New Jersey are considered “cost burdened,” meaning they spend at least 30% of their income on housing, a recent report by Rutgers University’s State Policy Lab said.
“We know there is a shortage, a significant shortage of affordable housing in New Jersey, but the middle class is getting squeezed as well,” said Will Irving, professor of practice at the Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. “And it’s getting harder and harder for young families to afford to buy a house.”
“The problem is, 100 years ago, we were land rich, and land was dirt cheap,” Rutgers University economist James W. Hughes said. “Now, we (have) almost overdevelopment in many areas, and land is extraordinarily expensive. So that creates more difficulties to do it.”