Councilmembers approve $2.1 million in renovations aiding homeless community

Jersey City social services center could receive $2.1 million for renovations to help homeless

In city hall this week, a vote on a lease agreement allocating $2.1 million towards renovations for a homeless shelter was at the forefront of debate among council members.

With an 8-1 vote, Ward C Councilmember Richard Boggiano opposed the agreement between the Jersey City Housing Authority, Garden State Community Development Corporation and the City of Jersey City for property at 514 Newark Avenue.

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According to the ordinance the agreement would be for “the purpose of providing services to people experiencing homelessness.” Hudson Gardens, a public housing organization overseen by the Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA) is located across Palisade Avenue from Dickinson High School.

The lease agreement would be spread out in a period of ten years costing from $140,000 to $167,000 per year. In addition, if the ordinance is approved, the city would take on costs related to improving the property of about $2.1 million.

“I am totally disappointed with all of you passing this,” said Boggiano, who claimed that the JCHA or Garden State did not reach out to neighbors notifying in advance on the development project. “This is just a yes council that does what its told,” added Boggiano who signaled out the other eight council members for approving the ordinance.

The Hudson Reporter spoke to Jaleel Williams, who is the vice president of The Hudson Gardens Resident Management Board, saying that residents “are not bothered with the shelter accepting homeless people,” but said prior to having security “it was really violent there.”

Speaking in front of the council members he said, “before they had a security guard or police it was really violent there,” pointing out that members of the homeless community were urinating in the hall ways and fighting with each other. He asked the council members to provide round the clock security instead of having temporary ones.

“As the need grows the need to change space and expand services grows,” said councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey who said the drop-service locations should be provided in other parts of the city to “alleviate some of the stresses in different neighborhoods.”

She added, that “homelessness is not relegated to one part of the city, it is across the entire city.” A majority of council members agreed that the situation was of “concern” and needed to be addressed.

President Joyce Waterman expressed her concerns over security with housing, saying that she was brought up in public housing and “beefing up” security would help with the issues brought by The Hudson Garden Residents. “We want to make sure that the residents there are safe, that is our responsibility.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Jordan Coll can be reached at jcoll@hudsonreporter.com.

 

 

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