Housing Terms and Facts

Housing and Individuals with Developmental Disabilities


Affordable Housing- is commonly defined as housing that costs no more than 30% of household income for households earning 80% or less of the region’s median income.

A Housing Wage- is the amount a full time (40 hours per week) worker must earn per hour in order to afford a two-bedroom unit at the area’s fair market rent. The housing wage in New Jersey is $20.35.

Area Median Income (AMI)- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calculates each year the median (middle) of each state and/or region. This calculation is then used to determine which individuals and families will qualify for federal housing assistance. New Jersey has an area median income of $75,701 in 2004.

Extremely Low Income- 0 to 30% of AMI. 30 % of the AMI in New Jersey is $22,710.

Very Low Income- 31% to 50% of AMI

Low Income- 51% to 80% of AMI

Low Income- 51% to 80% of AMI

Fair Market Rent- The amount determined by HUD in each state and/or region that is required to rent a modest and standard apartment.

Housing Cost Burden- This term means the household pays over 30 percent of its income on housing and utilities. 31% to 50% is concerned moderate housing cost burden; over 50% is concerned severe.

Section 8- This program requires a participant pay 30 to 40 percent of their income to rent and utilities and the remaining rental is covered by a federal subsidy known as a voucher. 250,000 vouchers exist nationwide, estimated 55,000 used by people with disabilities (50,000 are set aside exclusively for people with disabilities). In New Jersey 65,000 vouchers exist.

State Rental Assistance Program- $10 million program set up to help low income New Jerseyans afford rental housing. Some individuals hope it will offset the 7,000 to 8,000 households that might lose Federal Section 8 funding in New Jersey.

Regional Contribution Agreements- Allows municipalities to shift up to 50% of the affordable housing units they are required to build or develop to other municipalities. Under the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) guidelines municipalities must create 1 affordable home for every 8 market rate homes built and 1 affordable home for every 25 new jobs created.


  • People with disabilities continued to be the poorest people in the nation. As a national average, SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits in 2000 are equal to only 18.5% of the one-person median household income, and fell below 20% of median income for the first time in over a decade.
  • 3.5 million non-elderly people with disabilities receive federal SSI benefits.
  • An SSI recipient (receiving $595 monthly) can afford monthly rent of no more than $179, while the fair market rent for a one-bedroom unit is $905 in New Jersey.
  • Published data from the HUD Office of Policy Development and Research indicates that people with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 62 represent approximately 13% of the total households that currently receive federal housing assistance, even though they make up over 25 percent of the 4.9 million households with “worst-case” housing needs.
  • The Division of Development Disabilities’ Waiting List for Community Residential services currently totals 7,443 individuals.
  • 95 million people, one third of the nation, had housing problems (high cost burden, overcrowding, poor quality, or homelessness) in 2001.
  • More 900,000, or one third of all New Jersey families live in homes that are excessively expensive, overcrowded, or substandard. 288,000 families or 10% pay more than half their income for housing (1990 US Census).
  • In New Jersey, 73% of low-income families pay more than the recommended cap of 30% of their income to provide a home for their children.
  • In New Jersey there are approximately 9,640 families on the Public Housing Authority’s (PHA) Section 8 waiting list statewide. 20 percent are families/individuals with disabilities of whom approximately 6 percent are both elderly and disabled.
  • In New Jersey, an extremely low-income household (earning $22,710, which is 30% of the area median income of $75,701) can afford monthly rent of no more than $568, while the fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit is $1,058.
  • A New Jersey family needs to earn over $41,000 a year to afford the fair market rent of a two-bedroom apartment.
  • A minimum wage earner (earning $5.15 per hour) can afford monthly rent of no more than $268.
  • A minimum wage worker, earning $5.15 per hour, would need to work 158 hours per week in order to afford the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment. New Jersey is the most expensive place in the nation for a minimum wage worker to rent.
  • The New Jersey Department of Labor projects that for 2006, four out of every 10 jobs will pay less than $25,000 per year.
  • Half of the state’s existing affordable housing is concentrated in 12 cities. Most of the communities where job growth is occurring do not have accompanying supplies of affordable housing.
  • There are more than 23,000 families on the state waiting list for Section 8 housing subsidies.


National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach, December 2004 | www.nlihc.org |

Varies articles from the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey | www.hcdnnj.org |

US Census 1990 and 2000 | www.census.gov |

Technical Assistance Collaborative Inc. and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force, Opening Doors: Issue 24, March 2004 | www.tacinc.org |