Monday, January 6, 2014

Jake Stuiver completes his service on the Hoboken Housing Authority

In a letter to the mayor and Council President Peter Cunningham, former HHA Chairman and commissioner Jake Stuiver submitted the following letter officially completing his service.

He was appointed in a unanimous vote of the City Council back in 2009.

January 4, 2014

Dear Mayor Zimmer and Council President Cunningham,

I hereby tender my resignation from the Hoboken Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, effective January 6, 2014, bringing to a close a protracted holdover period extending from my term’s official end eight months ago. It has been a genuine pleasure serving the City of Hoboken, but the time has come to move on with my life and focus on other priorities. I wish to thank the City Council, which unanimously appointed me in September 2009, for the opportunity to serve in this incredibly important and consequential position.

Among the accomplishments during my term of which I am particularly proud are the establishment of tighter accountability and disciplinary guidelines for site managers, who are the agency’s most direct interface with its residents; the raising of fundamental concerns about the Vision 20/20 redevelopment plan; the passage of the agency’s first Pay-to-Play reform policy, modeled on the one previously adopted by the City of Hoboken; the holding accountable of all of the agency’s professional-services contractors and assertion of board’s right to demand the utmost integrity; the organizing of the annual Health, Nutrition & Fitness Fairs (typically sponsored in conjunction with the United Synagogue of Hoboken) and the Family & Friends Thanksgiving Buffet dinners; and strident efforts to maintain fairness and transparency in the agency’s waitlist management.

While the last 18 months of my tenure on the board have been extremely challenging and at times painfully disappointing, I did not sign up for this expecting it to be easy, and I deeply appreciate the strong and empowering support that came from throughout the community as I attempted to bring oversight, accountability and professionalism to the Housing Authority. In my efforts to hold the line against a resolute opposition, the dais often proved to be a rather lonely place. Nevertheless, the appreciation and moral support I received from many community stakeholders played an extraordinary role in my ability to maintain my composure and determination to press onward. I sincerely believe that I leave the Hoboken Housing Authority in a far better position to reach its true potential than I found it four years ago, and am proud of the policies, changes and new traditions I helped establish.

These positive changes would not have been possible without the support and generosity of Hobokenites who donated to fund events for the residents, came out to speak publicly on controversial issues, offered helpful advice drawing from their professional experience, or even simply attended meetings to offer a friendly face in an angry crowd. I cannot thank everyone enough for these acts of courage and generosity. The future of the Hoboken Housing Authority will be determined by those who put their money where their mouths are, not the armchair quarterbacks whose talk-without-action blame games are part of the problem, not the solution.

I believe public housing is an essential component in any community. In Hoboken, it is especially critical, as the cost of living continues to pose challenges to lower-income families. However, a public-housing program without accountable management, under the illusory safeguard of ineffectual HUD bureaucrats, can pose real risks to the greater community, not least because of the political exploitation that can result. I am confident the Hoboken Housing Authority’s best years are yet to come, and one day it stands to grow more fully integrated into the broader community to be seen chiefly as the provider of a valuable workforce rather than an illegal vote-buying enterprise preyed upon by the old rogue’s gallery of election hijackers and political profiteers.

While there are some who may have formed negative opinions of the Housing Authority based on the public spectacles being orchestrated in relation to Vision 20/20 over the past several months, I earnestly hope they will come to reconsider their position. The Hoboken Housing Authority contains 1,353 apartments serving as homes to over 4,000 residents. The odious behavior of a dozen or so paid political operatives waging a reprehensible organized effort to derail public meetings and intimidate public officials presents an ugly image indeed. Rest assured, these political prostitutes do not in any way speak for the silent majority who want nothing more than to participate in the Hoboken community with the same safety, opportunity and honest representation as everyone else in this amazing city.


                                                Jake Stuiver

Jake Stuiver announced his resignation from the Hoboken Housing Authority in a letter to Mayor Zimmer and Council President Peter Cunningham.  His was a powerful voice standing for good government seen here leading a protest in April 2011 outside City Hall when a FBI video surfaced showing Councilman Michael Russo
 agreeing to bribes with government informant Solomon Dwek.