Taxpayers spent approximately $21,000 to temporarily house a family from the Hoboken Housing Authority at a luxury hotel in Jersey City for three months.
With a glut of units available for rent, the Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA) spent $6,979.54 per month temporarily housing one family at the Global Luxury Suites in Jersey City.
Whether or not that was a wise use of taxpayer funds, it was the housing authority’s responsibility to move the family under the federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act (URA), according to HHA Executive Director Marc Recko.
The underlying issue behind the relocation was an elevator repair project at an HHA property, 220 Adams Street, which should be completed by May 2021 (if not sooner). Construction work was creating so much noise that children residing in the family’s unit were purportedly having difficulty with remote learning.
To address the situation, the housing authority initially moved the family to a Sheraton hotel, which became untenable, and then to the Global Luxury Suites. When questioned by HHA Commissioner Andrew Impastato at the boards’s January 14, 2021, meeting about the situation, Recko said there was an unsuccessful effort to find a cheaper alternative.
Of note, 220 Adams is designated as a senior housing facility, though, families with a disability are allowed to reside there, according to Recko. Although no specifics were mentioned in the HHA board meeting, special needs were considered when relocating the family of five (which includes a 9-year-old, 4-year-old, and 4-month-old).
Nevertheless, within one month of Impastato raising objections – particularly with the approximated 800 units of housing available in the Hoboken market – two cheaper & viable alternatives emerged.
The first was a one-time $3,500 expenditure to pay for a security deposit and broker’s fee. That deal would’ve seen the family permanently relocate to a private residence in North Bergen; however, the idea was scrapped because no such agreement has supposedly been done before and there was concern about the type of precedent it would set.
The second was for between $2,000 and $2,500 that would temporarily relocate the family to an Applied Housing Management unit in Hoboken. That deal has been agreed to by all parties, but it’s unclear whether the unit will become permanent housing for the family.
All of the relocation costs incurred by the HHA will eventually be reimbursed by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), according to Recko.
Interestingly enough, multiple sources have expressed suspicion regarding the relocation. One specific issue was regarding how long the family was residing at 220 Adams prior to the temporary relocation.
Real Garden State was able to obtain the mother’s name from multiple sources who say the family was residing at another HHA property, 655 6th Street, not long before moving to 220 Adams (partially confirmed by online records). When asked by Real Garden State, Recko did not answer how long the family was residing at 220 Adams prior to the relocation.
Sources speculate that tensions between the family and senior citizens residing at 220 Adams, not the elevator repair, was the true underlying cause of the relocation. Additionally, though the terms of the agreement with Applied is unknown, one source says furniture and other belongings were removed this week from the family’s apartment at 220 Adams.
Regardless, as far as taxpayers are concerned, the nearly $7,000 per month rent being paid to a luxury hotel is coming to an end as of February 19, 2021, but not before approximately $21,000 was spent for three months of housing.