Council candidate Josh Einstein on urban public housing

Official release:

Our government run social safety net system was created to
use government to help people in need ascend out of the immediate and temporary
problems they were confronted with towards self-sufficiency. It failed. From
the inherent problems of a functional monopoly with an institutional incentive
to regulate competing models out of business rather than out-serve them on a
level playing field to the intrinsic desire of status quo politicians to create
long term stable voting blocs to support their eternal re-election campaigns,
the government social safety net system has always faced many existential
issues which undermine its original and noble purpose.
One such example, and a local one that relates to our city,
is the public housing authority aka the projects. Our fellow citizens living in
the projects are served by a system in dire need of reform. This is not to
impugn the residents, nor the trustees and staff, but it is an indictment of a
system that de-facto warehouses people and is intuitionally ripe for abuse. The
projects are governed by a board of commissioners appointed by a mix of the mayor,
city council, and the state government who together hires a director. Each one
of these people have to fight the urge to use their position as the de-facto
mix of condo-board, landlord, and mini-government of the projects to build a
political base. Aside from the ever-present danger that the politicization of
the basic needs and services for our fellow Hobokenites represents, there have
been few residents of the projects on the board, further infantilizing
residents as wards of the board for the political leadership care for.
Across the country this system of patronage has created a
disincentive for the political appointees who run public housing to engage with
residents as stakeholders as well as to attempt to give a hand up rather than a
hand out. The system needs transformation in order to achieve its original
goal. That reform is a Community Land Trust (CLT). A CLT is a non-profit that
seeks to keep lower income housing in perpetuity, maintaining that safety net
for those economically less fortunate, while at the same time allowing its
members to strive for more while taking a leadership role in their own destiny.
CLT’s have a co-owning model, not dissimilar from co-opts or condo
associations, in which they the own land and residents can own the housing unit
they live in. CLT’s keep units for rent substantially below market rates for
the working class as well as offer to sell units to their current residents as
highly discounted and low rates (as has been done in public housing in
Britain). The then owners of a unit can sell it onwards at a CLT agreed upon
formula which keeps the unit significantly under the market rate but allows the
selling resident to make a small profit. This keeps units affordable and allows
residents more opportunities to build a better future.
Just an importantly, CLT’s destroy the ability of local
political factions or a potentially bad board member from using their influence
for political gain by having a board that is made up of CLT residents (unit
owners and renters) and neighboring community members. It integrates, rather
than segregates, the CLT residents into the local neighborhood community by
building bridges across economic divides and communities and it empowers the
residents to be the stakeholders they can be when not being lorded over by
political appointees.
The path to transform Hoboken’s projects to a Community Land
Trust will be long and arduous. It will not be easy as partisans often fight
for the status quo but building a better city for all is why I’m running for
City Council.
Einstein is the independent candidate for Hoboken City Council, the Republican
State Committeeman from Hudson County, a member of the Hudson County Regional
Jewish Council, and has been published in over 13 papers and websites.

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