Mason: Affordable condo controversy

9/9/2008:

Here’s a juicy one for you this morning.

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2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason forwarded a letter to Hoboken411 outlining her concerns about a plan to provide new “affordable” condos exclusively to city employees, and an effort to keep discussion of this behind closed doors and out of the view of the public.

The condos would be sold at a discounted rate to five city employees by Dean Geibel’s Metro Homes at the MetroStop high-rise. Mason says she received an e-mail from Geibel’s development attorney James Burke explaining how he would like to set up meetings with “2-3 council members at one time” which he described as “efficient but would not violate the open public meetings act.”

That “Sunshine Law” says any meeting of five council members in a room constitutes a meeting that should be noticed to the public. Instead of holding an open public meeting to discuss the ramifications of a developer offering five condo units at a discount to the city to sell to it’s hand-picked buyers, the administration of Mayor David Roberts is trying to bring the council members into his office in small groups to hear the pitch. These are known as “running meetings”, and are set up to circumvent the “Sunshine Law.”

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Secret Meetings, Secret Decisions

Holding running meetings in the Mayor’s office with small groups of selected council members allows the administration to “lean on” the council and discuss things that should rightfully be done in a public meeting in a private setting. In the past, meetings like these have allow some council members to wheel and deal their votes for something the administration wants. It also allows the administration to split up the opposition to pressure the minority to vote in their favor. This case is even more alarming because it involves a concept that at best is ripe for favoritism, and at worst may be illegal: making a deal with a developer for cut-rate condos for insiders.

Who gets these “Affordable Condos?”

Over the years there have been no shortage of stories about how people connected to city government have gotten special treatment and access to affordable housing. The politically active can be rewarded with the best apartments in public housing as well as government subsidized rentals like Marine View. Some grow vast wealth in their “affordable” apartments while newly hired teachers, cops and firemen sit on waiting lists for years.

In her letter to Council President Nino Giacchi, Mason says the Roberts administration continues to “circumvent the law with regard to transparency”, and that she believes the “issue of affordable housing is an important discussion that should take place in full view of the public.” Mason writes that she has spoken with attorneys who deal with state affordable housing law and they say they don’t know how the COAH law would allow city employees to leapfrog past people on waiting lists.

Read much more about this in the letter and share your thoughts in the comment section!

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114 Comments on "Mason: Affordable condo controversy"


Easy-E
Member
7 years 9 months ago
[quote comment=”105680″][quote comment=”105674″][quote comment=”104819″]i can certainly see a number of reasons why i would want to sue the city of hoboken and Metrohomes on this. it stinks for a number of reasons. this developer has made millions thru the back room deals in hoboken. who cares if he cannot sell his condos? nobody here i’m sure. if he wants to cut the prices and offer to all the world that’s fine. if he wants the city of hoboken to get involved in buying condos or acting as co-signer on a mortgage for city employees i say FU. and i would like to take a moment to point out that i am completely in agreement with mr. easy-e on his above comments; “Too bad, move someplace you can afford…” absolutely! i too cannot afford NYC prices/taxes/living costs, so i live in Hoboken. if you cannot afford Hoboken you can move to one of the surrounding communities. easy-e is 100% correct. there is no reason for this waterfront community to continue to host housing projects. these people have no roots in the community. many were moved here from JC by troy washington when te housing projects they were in were closed by JC because of the rampant crime problem. so they brought their crime problem here! (housing projects are temporary anyway. people don’t live generation after generation after generation in free housing projects) so as E-E stated, these people cannot afford Hoboken and should not live here.[/quote] I agree with you 100%.… Read more »
homeworld
Member
7 years 9 months ago

From “The Leader Newspaper:”

While the COAH process may pave the way for affordable units, actually matching eligible families to affordable housing is handled at the local level, according to Chris Donnelly, COAH spokesman.

As part of the process, affordable units must be advertised throughout the housing region. For local municipalities, that region includes Bergen, Passaic, Hudson and Sussex counties.
People from the same housing region can be given preference for units within the region, but preferences for those already living in the host community are not allowed, according to the COAH manual for rented affordable units.

Applicants have to verify that their income falls into eligible categories. For example, in this area, the COAH has established that families of four with an annual income of less than $61,658 qualify for moderate-income housing. Families with an income of less than $38,536 qualify for low-income housing.

Reformerus_Gianticus
Member
Reformerus_Gianticus
8 years 12 days ago

[quote comment=”105675″]what’s this got to do with a bailout? the reporter article this weekend had a lot more details, and apparently this was approved in public at some council meeting back in ’05…but it also goes into public officials living in subsidized housing already which is interesting to read…[/quote]

TrumpT3-
If the city buys these condos I view it as a bailout because we know the Roberts Administration has a track of assets and their management:

1) The sell assets at too low a price (City Garage).
2) They will overpay for these apartments as a kickback to the developer.

That is a bailout in my book even if it is only 5 units.

Biffy B For Mayor
Member
Biffy B For Mayor
8 years 12 days ago
[quote comment=”105674″][quote comment=”104819″]i can certainly see a number of reasons why i would want to sue the city of hoboken and Metrohomes on this. it stinks for a number of reasons. this developer has made millions thru the back room deals in hoboken. who cares if he cannot sell his condos? nobody here i’m sure. if he wants to cut the prices and offer to all the world that’s fine. if he wants the city of hoboken to get involved in buying condos or acting as co-signer on a mortgage for city employees i say FU. and i would like to take a moment to point out that i am completely in agreement with mr. easy-e on his above comments; “Too bad, move someplace you can afford…” absolutely! i too cannot afford NYC prices/taxes/living costs, so i live in Hoboken. if you cannot afford Hoboken you can move to one of the surrounding communities. easy-e is 100% correct. there is no reason for this waterfront community to continue to host housing projects. these people have no roots in the community. many were moved here from JC by troy washington when te housing projects they were in were closed by JC because of the rampant crime problem. so they brought their crime problem here! (housing projects are temporary anyway. people don’t live generation after generation after generation in free housing projects) so as E-E stated, these people cannot afford Hoboken and should not live here.[/quote] I agree with you 100%. In… Read more »
TrumpT3
Member
TrumpT3
8 years 12 days ago

what’s this got to do with a bailout? the reporter article this weekend had a lot more details, and apparently this was approved in public at some council meeting back in ’05…but it also goes into public officials living in subsidized housing already which is interesting to read…

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