DIAZ: NJ is losing its soul to corporate real estate

If there’s one thing college teaches us, it’s the art of being the architect of our future. Undergraduates must choose the major that will provide them with quality internships, direct them to the perfect job, and ultimately give them the dream home that we all hope awaits them.

With those ambitions in mind, it’s important to acknowledge the many financial and proprietary tips that can sometimes be found on his TikTok “For You” page. So much financial advice has been thrown around on social media, from parents purchase homes for their children to owners with a duplex where a tenant lives in the other space.

For students who are about to complete their undergraduate career at Rutgers and turn this financial advice into reality, they will soon realize that there are more barriers to securing affordable housing in New Jersey than they could imagine.

The main problem crippling renters and new homeowners across the state is the predatory practices of LLCs and corporations that dominate the housing market.

New Jersey is already notorious for having high taxes, and now it will also be known for tenants who have to deal with companies with vast real estate that charge absurd rates and take aggressive stances toward their prospective tenants.

Newark and Trenton are at the forefront of these changes. At Rutgers—Newark study demonstrated that rents were increasing statewide due to declining rental property owners and decreasing owner occupancy.

These companies have overtaken average renters and future owners as candidates for these properties because they are able to produce all-cash offers, receive lower interest rates and bid with higher offers.

The average New Jerseyan already has interest rates and mortgages to consider when considering bold financial moves, like buying a home or finding an apartment to rent. But the aggressive growth of companies expanding into real estate is just another problem that can encourage new graduates to stay home with their parents, perpetuate homelessness and destroy communities.

The study also proven that in Newark, “anonymous buyers purchased nearly half of the city’s residential real estate stock, the highest rate of this type of real estate practice in the country,” from 2017 to 2020. If businesses can own the half of a city’s land, coupled with the financial leverage they have, they essentially have the majority of power, which then diminishes the votes of average citizens.

Additionally, the amount of money New Jersey citizens must set aside to cover rent is both physically and mentally taxing. US Census data revealed that from 2017 to 2021, homeowners in New Jersey spent at least a quarter of their income on rent, and many have even exceeded the national average by almost 30%.

Hard-working students with part-time jobs, sometimes two, already cringe when they see how much money they could have gone home with before taxes. And now, with businesses on the prowl, those living in New Jersey’s lowest-income communities have few affordable housing options.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has even “estimates that New Jersey lacks more than 200,000 affordable and available housing units for very low-income renters.”

The issue reveals the lack of affordable housing protections in New Jersey, and while there may be legislation underway to address these issues, it is unclear which ones will actually be implemented and when their effects will be seen.

Rutgers students should keep an eye on the rental real estate playing field as Newark, Trenton and New Brunswick are in the middle of it. For prospective graduates looking to start their new life after college, they should be aware of policies that can help reduce rental rates in areas they want to live in so they match their income.

There must be a future path in which people can do more than just rent in New Jersey.

Abriana Diaz is a senior in the School of Arts in Science, majoring in Political Science and Communications and a minor in Critical Intelligence. Her column, “In The Know With Abby,” airs every other Monday.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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