Urgent HFHA Meeting: Thursday, August 15, 7-9 p.m.

Location: Community Church at the corner of 6th and Garden Streets
Date: Thursday, August 15, 2013 

Time: 7-9PM

HFHA invites all local residents, officials, and press to attend.

There will be a number of urgent topics under discussion.

First off, tenants and homeowners alike need to know about the property revaluation being done in Hoboken right now by Appraisal Systems Inc.

This revaluation, which is currently taking place over several weeks, could potentially overvalue smaller homes and rental buildings, resulting in inflated taxes on these properties and thus force their sale.

Many small landlords, small owners and tenants of 1-4 unit and larger buildings will be pushed out of their homes if appraisers deviate from valuing buildings based on their actual rent-roll incomes, or if buildings are valued based on what “could” be if those buildings were torn down to make way for larger ones, instead of valuations based on the buildings currently in place.

And ASI has already stated at a public presentation that their method consists of valuing properties at their maximum “market value,” which is entirely speculative.

And, can you spell conflict-of-interest?  ASI’s president was the tax assessor for Mountain Lakes, NJ while MSTA’s attorney was mayor of that town for two years and a councilmember for several years before he was mayor.

MSTA is the local developer/real-estate lobbying group that has frequently sued, and continues to sue, the City of Hoboken over its longstanding rental protections.

MSTA’s attorney unsuccessfully sued the city for over a million dollars worth of attorney’s fees for a previous class-action suit against the city that attempted to weaken Hoboken’s tenant protections.  That suit was also unsuccessful.

And it is MSTA, of course, that is behind the stealing of the November 2012 rent-control election results — the attempt to usurp in the courtroom what they lost at the polls.

Learn what you can do to stand up for your rights against large real-estate interests who want to see rent-controlled tenants and smaller, older homes gone.   Real-estate interests who, in an effort to destroy any trace of historic Hoboken, want to replace older homes with high-density condos accessible only to the very wealthy.

Homeowners in Princeton are standing up for their rights, and Hoboken can do the same.  An important lawsuit has been brought in Princeton against ASI by a determined citizens-homeowner’s group.  And Princeton is not the only town taking action against unfair property revaluations.

ASI has effectively acted as a reverse-Robin-Hood in Princeton, raising taxes disproportionately on small homeowners and lowering them for McMansions.

This video by Jim Firestone in Princeton explains the manner in which ASI conducted its revaluation there.  And the numbers here (click on ‘View full size’ to enlarge the chart) display in black & white ASI’s unfair, distorted taxing scheme.

According to a commenter here (scroll down to the last commenter):

“…the largest reduction of all, 40%, went to Scott Siprelle a member of the Reevaluation Advisory Commmittee who got his Hodge Rd house reevaluated as part of the Cleveland Lane neighborhood.”


Particularly, Hoboken’s small homewoners need to organize around this issue — and they could do well to take a cue from the Princeton group.

Also at the August 15 meeting, we’ll provide an update on our legal appeal of the stealing of the November 2012 rent-control election results.

Election-law attorney Flavio Komuves will be speaking at the meeting about our legal battle surrounding the rent-control question from last November’s election.  Flavio has written several brilliant briefs for HFHA in our ongoing legal struggles.

Attorney Renee Steinhagan of the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center will also provide details about, and bring us up to date on, our court action.  You can read her absolutely first-rate brief (PDF) that was submitted to the appeals panel of judges who will be deciding the case.

UPDATE:  Now you can read an updated summary statement of facts and procedural history of the election case by our attorneys Flavio and Renee.  This is a very readable and accessible overview (PDF).

We’ll also be hearing at the meeting from the heroic Matt Shapiro, president of NJTO.  Matt will give us an overview of the housing crisis taking place throughout the state, and will offer guidance as to how to proceed in Hoboken.

Rent-levelling board member and HFHA stalwart Cheryl Fallick will update us on a range of issues facing tenants, including the changing condo-rental regulations that may be about to happen, and what we can do about it.

This will also be a MEMBERSHIP DRIVE meeting for folks who are not currently HFHA members, and a time to renew expiring memberships. (You can join or renew RIGHT NOW by clicking on the Paypal “DONATE” button above.)

WE NEED YOU.  Please plan on attending the meeting, and consider bringing at least ONE FRIEND WHO IS AFFECTED BY RENT-CONTROL OR THE PROPERTY REVALUATION.

And that’s pretty much everyone in town, isn’t it?

Late-breaking FYI:

Hoboken Fair Housing Association currently has no official position on the Vision 20/20 affordable-housing controversy.  We’ve been far too busy dealing with other tenant issues.

We mention this because there is a flyer circulating in Hoboken discussing the Vision 20/20 affordable-housing project.  At the bottom of that flyer, our August 15th meeting agenda is misleadingly referenced.

This referencing of our meeting’s date and location was an underhanded attempt to hijack it and create the impression that the meeting’s main topic of discussion would be Vision 20/20.

Vision 20/20 is not one of the items on the HFHA August 15th meeting agenda, and this flyer should not have falsely represented that the August 15 meeting is about Vision 20/20.  It is not.

This is not to say that we refuse to discuss this issue; only that the inclusion of our meeting on the anti-20/20 flyer was misleading, and wrongly placed there by whoever made that flyer.

Suffice it to say that, as of this writing, our position is that we support the people who live in HHA housing, and we encourage them to form an alliance to help prevent anyone from losing their homes.

But our resources are far too limited (both in funds and manpower) for HFHA to take the lead in this struggle.  As we’ve said all along, a strong tenant movement is needed in Hoboken, and the more people that can take action, the more people who are actually willing to do something when needed, the more protection we  will all have.