At last night's meeting of the Hoboken Housing Authority -- which oversees Hoboken's housing projects -- they voted to promote Deputy Director Carmelo Garcia to Executive Director. The projects contain 1,373 units of subsidized low-income housing on the west side of town.
Garcia has been controversial at times as he is quite politically connected in town, a current member of the Board of Education and the former director of human services under Mayor David Roberts. But he grew up in the projects and has said that he wants to fix the drug problem there and increase the quality of life.
A committee of the housing board committee selected Garcia after a month-long “national search.” Five applications were received, they said. Years ago, when the last search was conducted, they received more than 500 applications.
Garcia had attempted to obtain the HHA position two years ago, but was deemed unqualified yet for the job. He took more time to be trained alongside director Robert DiVincent.
This time around, the board moved quickly and unanimously to appoint him, after consideration of the other applications by the board’s Personnel Committee – Chairwoman Jean Rodriguez and Commissioners Dominick Lisa and Perry Belfiore.
Garcia thanked the board and called the promotion “a new era in leadership for the Housing Authority.” He also made it clear that he did not have any involvement in the job search, aside from applying.
Friends and family gathered at the meeting to congratulate Garcia, including former Councilman Christopher Campos. Campos noted Garcia’s rise from living in the projects to running the projects and commended his dedication.
Garcia is tagged as the “acting” executive director for now, until the state Department of Community Affairs finishes their background check in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office, according to the board’s resolution.
DiVincent, the outgoing executive director, will be offered a consulting contract to ease the transition for Garcia. DiVincent is also the director for West New York and Weehawken.
Both Garcia and DiVincent have yet to negotiate their contracts with the board and will do so in the coming weeks. Lisa said executive director contracts range from one to five years and from about $125,000 to $150,000.
For much more on this story, read this weekend's Hoboken Reporter or click on this site starting Sunday.
What do you think? Comment below! And for prior stories on Garcia and the HHA, look at our previous stories below.