HFHA mourns the loss of Tom Olivieri; add your remembrance

Hoboken Fair Housing Association (HFHA) mourns the loss of Tom Olivieri, 75, who passed away on Thursday night.

As a long-time tenants’ rights activist, Tom was well-known and loved by supporters of rent protections in Hoboken. Tom served the City of Hoboken as Tenant Advocate and later as a cultural affairs official. He retired in 2001.

Tom was an extremely personable and compassionate guy.  He helped a great many of us over the years with our various unique housing issues and seemed to know almost everyone in town.  HFHA is deeply saddened by his death.

Tom was long at the center of cultural and civic activities in Hoboken’s broad-ranging Hispanic Community including the fighting of the wide-spread displacement of poor residents during the 1970s.

Tom continued to be active in the fight against displacement and in support of maintaining rent protections as a key participant in the HFHA campaign against a ballot question intended to severely weaken rent protections that appeared on the Hoboken ballot in 2012 and 2013.

Tom will be sorely missed. HFHA has learned that a funeral mass will be held offered on June 10 at 10:00 am at Our Lady of Grace Church, 400 Willow Street, Hoboken. His burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, No. Arlington. Visiting at The Lawton-Turso Funeral Home 633 Washington St., Hoboken, Sunday/Monday 2:00-4:00 and 7:00-9:00 both days.

Rest in peace, Tom.  Your contribution to Hoboken was invaluable.

Here is the obituary for Tom that was published in the Jersey Journal.

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  1. Watchpocket

    They say that if you don’t remember anything else about a person, you always remember how they made you feel.

    Well, I remember lots about Tom Olivieri, but I especially remember how he made me feel. You know the feeling you have about someone that you know genuinely likes you? And genuinely respects you? That’s how Tom made me feel every time I ever saw him.

    From the start, when I went before the rent board 3 times (and before a judge once) in the late 80s, Tom was there, helping me and advising me.

    He made me understand that everyone involved has rights, including the landlord, but once I and my attorney had established that I’d been charged more than double the legal rent amount, Tom helped clarify what needed to be done.

    He seemed to respect me (I guess because he had no reason not to) as well as like me, and, though he never acted like he thought you should respect him, I instinctively did respect him, enormously.

    Over the years I’d see him on the street or on the bus, and always got a good feeling just talking to him. “Hi Mel, how is everything with your situation now?” He woud ask.

    The warmth, the always-well-informed, even-tempered kindness that Tom exuded never failed to be personally uplifting for me.

    And, as far as I could tell, he was this way with everyone. We need more people like him in Hoboken, and I still look to him as a role model and someone I’d like to be more like. –Melvin Q. Watchpocket

  2. Jane Migliore

    R.I.P. wonderful Tom. You helped me so much when I first moved to Hoboken 21 years ago. I am grateful for your kindness and generosity which you had an abundance of! Love and light on your journey. xo [from Facebook HFHA page]

  3. Cheryl Fallick

    While I didn’t know Tom well, I knew who he was and that he’d done everything in his power to protect his friends and neighbors in the early, frightening days of the assault on Hoboken tenants.

    Many years ago, after learning that Hoboken had rent protections and calling the rent office to find out what that meant, (yes, there was a time when I had no idea what Hoboken’s rent protections were) it was his voice on the other end of the phone that took the time to answer all of my questions.

    I was lucky, there were no problems with my landlord and I didn’t need his help, but it was nice to know that other renters had someone to turn to for guidance.

    Many years later, when a wealthy developer/real estate investors group tried every trick in the book to render our rent protections moot, Tom was there, still an active part of the effort to maintain those important protections, knocking on doors, speaking with his friends and neighbors and letting them know to vote “no” on the confusingly worded ballet question in order to save rent control in Hoboken.

    More recently I’d heard that Tom wasn’t well and I was, therefore, overcome with gratitude that he would put in every effort on Election Day in 2012 and 2013.

    There he was on a cold November Day in 2013 urging passers-by to “vote no” on the dangerous ballot initiative as they made their way to the polls. He stayed until the last poll closed.

    Hobokenites can count among our many blessing that we were able to call him one of our own.

  4. David Cogswell

    Tom was a prince of a man and I am so grateful to have been able to know him. He was a man who did a lot of good for many people who needed help. If karma means something when you pass on from this world, Tom is in great shape. He generated about as much good karma as anyone I can think of. He was a kind and good man who didn’t seem to have a mean bone in his body. God love him, rest in peace dear Tom.

  5. Joel Horwitz

    Years and years of friendship, stories about the good, the bad, and the very ugly of this town, integrity, love, and HUMOR. That’s the Tom that stays with me.

  6. Ralph DeMatthews

    I wouldn’t have a home if it wasn’t for this good man! Tom, Thank you!


  7. Frank Marciano

    I just found out about Tom’s passing. He was a man that really lived a life with meaning. As a lawyer often on the other side of situations I was always stuck by the moral strength and integrity he established in his fight against the gentrification machine. There was no going around him, or above him, he knew had to protect tenants, and he spent hours of his own time protecting those who needed the most help and who had the least amount of money. He did not gain financialy or politically for his efforts. He was not concerned about increasing his power but used his power to protect others. I really admired him. This was a time before lawyers got involved and made so much money over dealing away Tenant’s rights, tenants that were comprised of families So many people who were facing eviction turned to the angel on their side in City Hall. Tom reminded me of Cesar Chavez. He was part of Hoboken’s soul and we need to remember people like Tom. I don’t know his family and did not know him outside of the arena, but am saddened by his death of great person.

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