Hoboken 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco explained why he rented his home on Airbnb during the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating that most of the dates in question were to spend time with family – with one exception being when he went to Colombia.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
An Airbnb account forwarded to HCV earlier this month indicates that a “superhost” named Michael, who has a five-star rating, had rented his Hoboken condo 23 times since August, about six months into the current public health emergency.
DeFusco said in a phone interview that the listing was indeed his, but the notion that he was living outside of the 1st Ward is “preposterous” and that he’s made the most of the past year by spending time with family, also indicating he rented his place in order to “offset” his mortgage.
“Over the last year, I had frequent weekend and holiday stays in Marlboro with my parents, Glen Ridge with my sister, brother-in-law and young nieces, and a handful of visits to Manasquan to spend time with my cousins … Aside from my official office, I am also a brother, uncle and son and the time I spent with them during the pandemic are moments I will cherish for years to come,” he said.
“With all official city meetings conducted online, and with others also in quarantine, I safely offered my home as a short term rental to others as a way of offsetting my mortgage which I pay on a single person’s income,” continuing that he missed just one council meeting in the past year where he has continued to work around the clock.
Like most municipalities throughout the state, Hoboken’s governing bodies have convened via Zoom throughout the pandemic and City Hall has been open at a limited capacity.
While that may account for what was happening in the Mile Square City, the Airbnb listing also includes 11 reviews from hosts in other countries including Croatia, Belgium, and Colombia during that same time frame.
DeFusco admitted that he did travel to Colombia recently, but said the other stays could be attributed to a childhood friend who has lived in Europe for the last decade. The person depicted on their shared Airbnb account is someone other than DeFusco.
“The listing is a shared account with my childhood best friend who has lived in Europe for the last ten years and was permitted to travel within the European Union,” he began.
“I did travel to Colombia once it was medically appropriate to do so, in order to visit a loved one and his family. This was a personal matter in my personal life that I would like to continue to keep personal. I’ve followed all CDC regulations.”
He declined to comment further on his out of state travel.
The host reviews show two reviews from Colombia: one from Andres, Medellin in January and then another from an undisclosed location in the South American country in March.
The CDC previously said “travelers should avoid all travel to Colombia” when they designated them as a Level 4 country with “very high” COVID-19 levels.
DeFusco was elected to the city council in 2015, about two years after the Airbnb listing went online, and was re-elected in 2019.