New Jersey didn't need a global pandemic for folks to realize their struggles with the cost of housing.

In a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, done in collaboration with the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, most New Jersey adults say the COVID-19 public health crisis did not impact their household's ability to make monthly rent or mortgage payments. Yet almost nine in 10 New Jerseyans (87%) consider the cost of housing to be a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem.

Just 16% of respondents said their monthly housing costs — rent or mortgage — are "very" affordable. Twenty-six percent said costs are "not very affordable," and 13% said they're "not affordable at all."

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Stark demographic differences are uncovered when the findings are broken down further.

"Notable disparities emerge in perceptions of renting difficulties and reported affordability of personal monthly housing costs by race, ethnicity, and whether someone owns or rents," said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

Compared to white residents, Black and Hispanic residents are more likely to say it's very difficult to find an affordable place to rent, feel a greater strain when it comes to housing costs, and are more likely to say that the pandemic has made it more difficult to afford their monthly housing costs.

Renters are more likely than homeowners to have a negative attitude about the cost of housing.

"Housing affordability continues to be a widespread concern across every New Jersey community, but these results drive home that renters, especially Black and brown households, have experienced the combined economic toll of the pandemic and housing shortage much more deeply," said Staci Beger, president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. "A strong and equitable recovery for all depends on our state leaders investing resources to create the affordable homes our residents need and to take strong steps to make homes more affordable for those earning the least."

Gov. Phil Murphy has ended New Jersey's Public Health Emergency, but an eviction moratorium remains in place for now. The past-due rent or mortgage payments must still be made at some point, but no tenant can be removed from their home as a result of a foreclosure or an eviction proceeding.

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