For weeks now I have read a steady stream of letters from the same four or five HFHA individuals who have always opposed any and all changes to rent control. Let me correct the record on several points that they consistently, and erroneously, trumpet as truths. Firstly, their claim that the request to review the results were solely the work of an “outside development lobby” is simply not true. I am a Hoboken resident of over 30 years (as both tenant and homeowner) and am just one of a number of Hobokenites who felt that the incredibly close vote was questionable and asked for the court review. We all agree that Sandy was a catastrophe. We all agree that rent control is a key issue. Democracy works when everyone is heard. The courts, both Superior and the Appellate Division, came to the conclusion that there were significant reasons to believe that the reported results were not necessarily accurate. Had that narrow margin gone the other way it would certainly have been reasonable for HFHA to make a similar request.
Secondly, we need to go beyond the fear mongering and talk facts. HFHA wants you to believe that landlords will stop at nothing to oust tenants so that they can make more money. The proposed vacancy decontrol protects current tenants who will continue to be protected by rent control who is most affected by the rent control ordinance? Not current tenants. Not the “developer” as HFHA claims. All new construction in Hoboken is exempt from rent control. Applied Housing and Senior Housing are exempt and will continue to be so, as they should be. So who is affected? A small group of owner-occupiers who live in their homes and rent floors to make ends meet. For most of these people their homes are the result of years of labor and investment. What happens if vacancy decontrol is defeated and the homeowner has to sell? The exact opposite of what tenant activists intend. Who would want to buy and live in a building where the rents are just a tiny portion of an exorbitant mortgage payment? No one other than a condo developer! Even HFHA must concede that sky-high mortgage payments and rock-bottom rental incomes are not compatible. Add to this the upcoming revaluation and you can easily see that the continuation of rent control in its current state will only drastically reduce the number of rental units in Hoboken. Vote yes to support vacancy decontrol so that fairness for both tenants and homeowners can prevail. Vote yes on November 5.