Jersey City right to counsel advocates marched to City Hall from the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza as the city council gets ready to vote on amended ordinances up for reintroduction at tomorrow’s meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“Fight, fight, fight! Housing is a human right. The rent, rent is too damn high! Housing is a human right!” the group of two dozen or so chanted as the action began.
“We’re fighting for JC to join 15 other cities. The rent is damn high!” Right to Counsel JC Coalition Coordinator Isaac Jimenez exclaimed.
He explained they were joined by the Rutgers One coalition after their recent successful strike, which he characterized as “historic,” before addressing the matter at hand.
“In city council, there is legislation on the table to pass right to counsel. It would guarantee legal representation for all tenants facing eviction,” he began.
“Workers and tenants are fighting back in their unions in their tenancies with their neighbors and at City Hall. We’re not paying for right to counsel through taxpayers. We’re going to tax the rich. We’re funding right to counsel with a fee on development.”
He continued by claiming that Jersey City is the most expensive city in the country for renters and that only three percent of tenants have a lawyer when they have to go to housing court.
He also explained hundreds from the development industry were at the annual Invest JC Summit in Newport.
“Including the biggest developer in Jersey City, the LeFrak organization. LeFrak is the chief architect of Newport and the displacement of thousands of Jersey City residents that lived right here. LeFrak is wack!” Jimenez exclaimed.
Coincidentally, LeFrak Chairman and CEO Richard LeFrak was on the panel and received a lifetime achievement award, which was presented by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
Once at the front steps of City Hall, the tenants then described their ongoing issues as renters.
“I am a longtime Jersey City resident. I’ve been in the same apartment for 30 years. During COVID, I was the only tenant in the building. The condition of the apartment has degraded. I have holes in my floor. There’s been a leak in the ceiling since 2000,” a woman who declined to give her name said.
“I got a hole in my wall in the kitchen, a hole in the wall in the bathroom. My landlord raised the rent $300 bucks a month.”
Jimenez declared that he was also getting evicted by a mom and pop landlord, drawing boos from the crowd. He further stated that to make matters worse, the landlord obtained the home through the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
“We’re fighting for the funding of this program that gave this landlord this house. It’s creating landlords that want to raise the rent. It’s really tragic. This is capitalism we’re talking about,” he added.
Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea, accompanied by a security guard and police officer, spoke to Jimenez and informed him they couldn’t stay there since they didn’t have a permit.
Jimenez said the interaction was cordial and the group marched back to the pedestrian plaza shortly after being asked to leave.
Inside council chambers at their caucus session, City Clerk Sean Gallagher explained that the new RTC ordinances, for right to counsel and the related development fees, are up for first reading, which mean the original versions won’t receive a second vote.
“So council members: items 3.1 and 3.2 are basically replacing items 4.1 and 4.2. So once we do introduce 3.1 and 3.2, I’m gonna ask for a motion for the council to defer to items 4.1 and 4.2 and make a motion to go right to defeat them because we’re gonna be introducing two brand new ordinances,” Gallagher noted.
The amendments include a provision that allows a Tenants Advisory Board to approve educational and and enforcement programs, opens the possibility for a universal program pending new funding sources, allowing the director to provide mediation services, allowing paralegals and law students the ability to be hired via requests for proposals, and allowing the council to approve the amount of contracted lawyers and in-house staff annually.
Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea came out in favor of the municipal RTC program yesterday.
The Jersey City Council convenes at City Hall, 280 Grove St., tomorrow at 6 p.m. and will also stream live on Microsoft Teams.
GREAT. GOODTO. SEE. THAT THIS RENT. CRISIS IS. COMING TO A HEAD, THERE WILL BE NO ONE OR NOTHING. LEFT OF JERSEY. CITY. STOP. DEVELOPERS FROM BUYING UP ALL THE. CITY. PEOPLE SHOULD NOT. HAV TO BE DISPLACED. FOR PROGRESS TO. TAKE PLACE. I MISS. THE DOWNTOWN OF PEP. BOYS AND. BED BATH AND. BEYOND. !!! how about some decent housing for seniors, the. senior building. GRANDVIEW. WAS. TAKEN OVER. AND MANY SENIORS. HAD TO. LEAVE, KEEP FIGHTING. ON.!!!