TRENTON, N.J. – While rent is increasing at record paces in New Jersey and far above the national average, the state Assembly isn’t taking action to provide more relief for renters, despite considering a slate of bills intended to make housing more affordable Thursday. Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips says helping renters is two years too late.
“It’s egregious that rent has increased so much, but the people who talk about helping sit on their hands until it is politically convenient,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “Senate Democrats only passed relief after affordability took front stage because of the election. In the Assembly, affordability is still just a talking point for Democrats.”
Rent for a one-bedroom unit has increased by 33% to $2,396 per month from $1,803 in the past year, and a two-bedroom unit has increased 38.5% to $3,061 from $2,210, according to a report by rent.com. National average rent increases were 26.5% and 25.7%, respectively.
In April 2020, DePhillips introduced a bill (A1148) that would increase the property tax deduction for renters to 30% of income from 18%. That would save the average renter of a one-bedroom unit $3,450 this year and two-bedroom unit renters an average $4,408 this year. Renter savings would increase annually. The full Senate passed the bill unanimously in March.
The bill is referenced to the Assembly State and Local Government Committee, which is meeting June 9 but is not addressing affordability.
“This really is outrageous. Instead of just cutting taxes, Democrats are negotiating some convoluted, too-little, too-late tax relief plan that will send people a few hundred dollars of their own money,” DePhillips exclaimed. “Not only will that cost more than increasing the tax deduction to offset poverty-level costs, it will provide less help to people who are in desperate need as the cost-of-living spirals out of control.”
Democrats are negotiating how to expand Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed ANCHOR program, which would send $250 checks to renters as rent increases by hundreds of dollars more. The current proposal is supposed to cost up to $1.5 billion by its third year. The deduction would cost $135.5 million by the Office of Legislative Services’ highest fiscal estimate.
“Not only is increasing the deduction more responsible to renters, it is more responsible for the state’s fiscal future. Cutting taxes is always better than more government, which takes money instead of letting people keep it for their own benefit,” concluded DePhillips.