I would like to take a moment to urge the residents of Hoboken to carefully examine the Vision 20/20 Plan and all of its potential effects before choosing to support or oppose it. I have studied public housing policy nationally; it is clear that this plan will have huge implications for the city. I believe there are a number of issues to consider that are not currently part of the public discussion.
When these policies have been undertaken in other cities, the quality of public housing stock has been improved, but many public housing residents have been displaced. Those displaced are often the most disenfranchised residents. Loopholes in the policies which were intended to guarantee that no residents be displaced, strict new requirements and screening for tenant eligibility, the extensive time required to build new housing, and red tape have been commonplace in other locales where similar policies have been implemented.
Researchers have reported that the tenant leaders who are the most ardent supporters of these plans and the politicians who support them, are quick to receive renovated housing, quelling dissent amongst residents. We must ask what “guarantees” will be in place to assure that no residents lose their housing, and investigate whether or not there are loopholes.
Financing is another major concern; what if finances dry up before the plan is complete? Will we find that in order to continue construction, the development of private housing is favored over creating housing for low-income residents (as happened in Battery Park City)? Will the construction quality of the new housing be on par with the buildings that currently exist, or will the new housing literally blow over in a storm (as happened in one case in Newark)? That being said there is not enough low-income or affordable housing in Hoboken. If the plan is carried through to completion as outlined it would increase the stock of housing for low-income and middle-income residents and improve housing and neighborhood conditions. Other issues to consider, however, include the goal of socio-economic integration and mobility, and how this will be achieved, along with ownership over the land/properties.
Molly Vollman Makris, PhD