The city of Hoboken has announced that 115 affordable housing units will soon be available for those who qualify. A 2012 affordable housing ordinance requires new developments in town with certain specifications to make 10 percent of their dwellings affordable.
The ordinance applies to developments with 10 or more units that apply for a variance from density regulations.
Five of the new affordable units will be located at 600 Harrison St., four at 1410 Grand St., and six at 721 Clinton St. And 42 will be built at Seventh and Jackson streets as part of the Bijou development.
Also, for homeless veterans, six affordable housing units will be part of a new project developed by the American Legion Post 107 at 308 Second St.
The city is currently undergoing litigation over 52 more affordable housing units in the Harlow, Park + Garden, and Vine properties.
According to city Spokesman Juan Melli, the city and the Zoning Board were brought into a 2011 suit between the three developers and Fair Share Housing, an organization devoted to defending housing rights in New Jersey.
The suit was brought against the developers and Hoboken Zoning Board for failing to enforce the provisions of a local 1988 housing ordinance that required residential developers to set aside a percentage of new units for working families, seniors, and those with disabilities.
Fair Share Housing won their suit in 2015 when a judge overturned a lower court ruling and upheld the 1988 ordinance. Currently that decision is being appealed.
Melli said the 42 units at the Seventh and Jackson project give a priority to Hoboken residents who apply.
But he could not specify exactly when any of the units will be available to the public.
“The timing will depend on the construction schedule for each individual developer,” said Melli. “We will provide updates as we have them.”
According to a Nixle alert from the city sent out to residents last week, “Additional announcements will be made when the first rental units are marketed, which is anticipated this spring.”
In November 2016, the City Council adopted the Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan and a guidebook entitled “Administration of Affordable Units: Policies & Procedures Manual” to set the rules for placing eligible individuals and families into affordable housing.
The manual tells income-eligible families how to work with developers, owners, and landlords as new affordable units become available, the tasks involved in administration of existing affordable housing units, how new units are created and priced, and how units will be marketed.
“The timing will depend on the construction schedule for each individual developers.” –Juan Melli
“Creating affordable housing has been a priority for my administration, and in fact we may be the only city in the state to proactively and voluntarily implement an affordable housing requirement in new residential construction,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
She said the rules “will help ensure that Hoboken remains a mixed income community and that affordable housing is available to those who need it the most.”
Over the years, rents have risen so high in Hoboken that people with moderate incomes, artists, and blue collar workers have a hard time staying. The city already has many affordable housing and federal low-income buildings, but the turnover is low.
How it works
To be eligible, a person’s pre-application must demonstrate that they meet state requirements, such as maximum income limits based on household size, and limits on how much of the household’s income can be spent on housing. The maximum limit increases with additional adult household members.
According to Melli, “There are different [income] limits depending on whether they are very low, low, or moderate. Developers have to provide a certain number of each.”
According to state guidelines for a household of one, for moderate affordable housing the income maximum is $47,276, for low affordable housing the income maximum is $29,548, and for very low the maximum income is $17,729.
When possible, the household must include at least one person for each bedroom in the unit selected.
According to the city, interested renters or buyers will be able to apply on-line at a website operated by Community Grants Planning & Housing (CGP&H) which is not yet available. The city plans to announce the website launch via its Nixle alert system and other ways.
According to the city, CGP&H will also work with interested applicants without computers by phone and mail.
Once applications are received, the city will create two waiting lists, one for buyers and one for renters. When the first units become available, a lottery will be conducted.
After the lottery, eligible households will be contacted and given 24 hours to respond. If they fail to do so or no longer want the unit they will no longer be considered for that unit but remain on the waiting list for the next available vacancy.
The lottery list will be retained for future re-rentals or re-sales, or as new units become available.
If selected for a unit, the interested household will be referred to the landlord or seller to view the unit and pay an application fee if applicable.
CGP&H will “income certify” the applicant, which means they will review the total gross income for the upcoming 12-month period of all adult household members who will live in the unit.
Once the applicant is income certified, the landlord will be notified that they may execute a lease with the new tenant. CGP&H, as the Administrative Agent, will calculate the maximum rent allowable as permitted by the state, including lease renewals.
If the applicant is a buyer, once certified the buyer will enter into negotiations with the seller and execute a purchase agreement that stipulates the terms of the sale. All these terms are then set out in the contract for sale. The parties then proceed to a closing in which the title of the property is transferred to the buyer as well as the affordable housing deed restriction, recapture note, and recapture mortgage are executed.
Both rental and sale units created under Hoboken’s Affordable Housing Program will be deed restricted for at least 30 years, or 40 years for units required by Hoboken’s Affordable Housing Ordinance, in order to ensure that the units remain affordable.
To sign up for alerts go to www.hobokennj.gov/alerts.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.