Affordable housing is crucial for Hoboken. It comes in multiple forms. Low-income housing, such as our Housing Authority, Middle Income housing or workforce housing, senior housing for our greatest generation, veteran housing for those who sacrificed the most and transitional housing for our Homeless population.
As Hoboken went through a massive transformation from the late 80’s through the 90’s and into the new millennium, we saw a major influx of people into the city almost doubling our population. Hoboken became a tale of two cities. A very wealthy and affluent population arriving, and the blue collar and lower income populations being squeezed out.
Because of the protections in place by the federal and state governments we have been able to maintain some housing for the lower bracket of the socioeconomic scale, but we are greatly lacking in all areas mentioned. Where are our teachers, servers, firefighters, laborers, and store clerks supposed to live? What about the single parent with 3 children? Or the Senior Citizen who is on a fixed income? This is a major concern, and it is not on the top of most minds, and it should be! Hoboken simply put does not have enough affordable housing.
We use redevelopment to continue to build affordable housing in Hoboken. It is mandated to allocate 10 percent of the units as low-income affordable housing. However, I just don’t think it is enough. As the City Council President, I am proud to have been able to finally get the NJ transit project passed, which will provide an unprecedented 20 percent of the units built as low-income affordable housing. These types of mandates are helping but are not filling the need. That’s why I am a staunch supporter of the newly created division of housing. Now we can start to concentrate on additional housing needs outside the redevelopment process, including the needs of our middle-income families, senior citizens, veterans and housing our homeless.
As a commissioner on the Hoboken Housing Authority, we have begun the process of rebuilding our entire stock of housing units. This is vital for Hoboken, not only because we will be able to upgrade the living conditions for HHA residents, but we have an opportunity to increase the number of units to meet the overwhelming need. We had over 9000 applicants for housing at our last opening for applications. This is an astounding amount of those in need!
In addition to the needed upgrades, we also have the obligation to provide the amenities for our residents that are enjoyed by others in our city. HHA residents deserve community spaces, fitness facilities, and even a pool. We should also build a library annex, space for our food pantry and even a state of the art medical clinic on site of the HHA.
The City Council voted to also donated land to build homeless veteran housing to the American legion post in Hoboken. They have already completed a new building with 6 units and are in the process of building an addition on the donated land to house 17 more veterans.
These are the plans for the most immediate future and I think they are and will continue to work, but it is a slow process and we need to do more.
We need to mandate increase percentages of the allocated units in our developments for affordable housing to allow for a mix of residents across the socioeconomic scale. We need to maximize our HHA repositioning, so we can add hundreds of units. We need to create an additional veterans housing, and we need to create emergency and transitional housing for our homeless population. It comes down to want and will! If we put the resources into accomplishing this goal we can achieve it. In 2022, as the city council president, I am proud to have put this back on top of everyone’s mind and think we have started to rethink what we need and how we can achieve the needs in Hoboken.
The more you get to know me you know this is not just something that I want to accomplish because of my position as a city councilman, but because Hoboken is my home and those that reside here are my “family”. I feel a deep personal connection to the city and its residents. I take my obligations serious and want to always help to protect all my neighbors.