Mason makes the case
Jun 16, 2013 | 4246 views | 4 4 comments | 226 226 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to express my support for the Vision 20/20 project, a proposed plan to upgrade the Hoboken Housing Authority facilities, which are over 60 years old, and revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods.

As you may be aware, my involvement in local politics began over a decade ago as a community activist for responsible and balanced development. As a mother of two daughters, I wanted a Hoboken that not only provided a small-town neighborhood feel, but also opportunities for our residents who come from all different backgrounds. Over the years I have gotten to know many of residents of the Hoboken Housing Authority. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy my family and I spent a great deal of time in the Housing Authority to assist residents. Many families were left without electricity, heat, and hot water for over a week. The need for updated, modern facilities has never been clearer.

The Vision 20/20 project will provide state-of-the-art affordable housing for our senior citizens and working class families who reside in the Hoboken Housing Authority. It will be funded by three sources: $7.3 million from the low income housing tax credit program, $3.4 million from Community Development Block Grant program, and a $1.9 million loan from the New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency.

New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings together concerned citizens and leaders to promote responsible land-use policies. The Vision 20/20 Project was the recipient of New Jersey Future’s Smart Growth Award for its comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy.

Here are several reasons why Vision 20/20 was the recipient of the award and why I believe the project deserves support from our community.

1. The project will insure that no current resident is displaced and, at the same time, provide for a variety of mixed-income housing options.

2. It will allow for upward mobility within the neighborhood and allow residents of all income levels an opportunity for a better future.

3. The new buildings will be hurricane resistant, and there will be increased parking and double the open space.

4. The project will allow all residents equal access to facilities for recreation, transit, early childhood education, retail space, shops and restaurants, and community program space for job skills training.

As a public servant, I am dedicated to supporting balanced revitalization plans that allow all residents of our community equal opportunities that help make our community an even better place to live and raise a family.

The importance of this project is so obvious that no matter what your eyesight is you can see it with 20/20 Vision.

Beth Mason
2nd Ward Councilwoman

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June 16, 2013
So Ms. Mason is suggesting that on the order of 1,000 units will be built with funding of $7.3 million $3.4 million $1.9 million = 12.6 million. This comes to 12.6 thousand dollars per unit! Whom are you kidding, Ms. Mason!!!
June 17, 2013
Actually they are building 1,800 units. You forget they are tearing down the 800 units and replacing the whole 800 unit complex with an 1,800 unit complex.

And actually it seems the largest source of funding is the tax abatement they are seeking that is probably worth several million or more a year for 20 years. That tax abatement means we all pay more in taxes so the developer can pay less and use the savings to pad their pockets and built some buildings. Not really fair to residents to be asked to swallow a tax hike just to make this development that would increase the town's population by a few percentage points but contribute next to nothing in taxes a reality.

IMO, the importance of seeing the detailed plans for this project including some detailed financial projections is apparent to anyone w/ 20/20 vision and Ms. Mason and her willingness to blindly approve this project w/o even seeing any documentation suggests she needs to have her eyes and head examined.
June 16, 2013
Ms Mason, perhaps if you spent fewer column inches talking about yourself, you could have addressed the following.

1) 20/20 greatly expands the population of the HHA. The exact number has never been provided. Don't you think your endorsement should only come once that number is known? Don't you think the rest of the city is entitled to know this change is planned?

2) There is nothing "state of the art" about warehousing the poor and working class. The idea was discarded decades ago.

3) The open space provisions of the plan are laughable.

4) There is at this point no documentation sufficient to make an endorsement. Sharply increasing the HHA population without an impact study on city services, schools, police, infrastructure, etc, is disturbingly short-sighted even for you.

5) Overseeing a project of this magnitude should not be the part-time job of future assemblyman Garcia. Clearly he is already too busy to produce even the basic documentation to allow the city council and public at large to make an informed decision.

6) If you are simply providing this empty endorsement because you very badly need Brian Stack to like you, why don't you just write him a check for $45 grand like you did for Healy and stop screwing over the population of the city you are supposed to represent.
June 19, 2013
This plan (or any plan for the area) is not going to expand the population of HHA. It will decrease it because this plan (or any other plan for the area) is all about middle and high income tenants. I'm not sure what you mead when you talk about "warehousing the poor and working class". We have plenty of luxury housing to warehouse the rich and entitled. Working people need a place to live too. But maybe not in Hoboken, right?