I want to start a conversation on the poor state of the economy and the access to affordable housing in New Jersey. I think this conversation is important because New Jersey is and has been one of the most expensive states to live in and many residents either are seeking an exit or feel forced to leave their home state because of the financial hardship. For too long, New Jersians have felt the sting of the economy and the frustration with displacement. Cost of living in New Jersey is above the national average by at least 30%, according to a 2017 report. Whereas, the states minimum wage is still well below average in comparison to its cost of living. This imbalance has been present for decades. I have personally felt the effects of living in this state with a low-income family, having moved 13 times already in my 24 years alive while also planning another move this May. I also know many people who are tired of trying to make ends meet year to year. Since 1990, New Jersey’s outbound migration has almost cancelled out the totals of inbound migrations, which includes international immigration. Those leaving the state on average have a lower annual income than those seeking to move to New Jersey, which proves you need the money to thrive here.
New Jersey is a beautifully diverse state with immense potential. We have 130 miles of shoreline, 233,000 acres of farmland, exciting cities and quaint suburbs. There is something for everyone; and yet, people feel the need to leave because the cost of staying out ways the promise. As a young person planning their future, I worry what the next few years will mean for me staying here. Therefore, for my senior thesis design project with Rutgers University Newark, I am determined to materialize the frustration, suffering and sacrifice that our neighbors are forced to confront every day they wake up in this state through the mode of communication design. I hope for change, because I love to live here. I love Its diversity, its access to major cities, its culture and personality.