Anonymous radio guest: ‘One of their agendas is to make Hoboken all white and rich’

HOBOKEN — As reported in a Reporter cover story last month, the executive director of Hoboken’s low-income public housing projects, which are located in the southwest corner of the mile-square city, has been pursuing a plan called Vision 20/20 to rehabilitate the buildings. A group of public housing residents has been coming to city meetings to support Executive Director Carmelo Garcia and to support the plan — but it has become apparent that a movement to protest the plan may be forming.
Flyers were hanging up in the projects over the weekend from an anonymous group calling itself “Save the Projects.” The flyers listed an email address and phone number. The group is concerned that the project may displace residents and leave them nowhere to return to.
On Sunday evening, a woman who said she lives in the projects was interviewed on WBAI radio. The woman remained anonymous, and gave out the contact information for Save the Projects on the air.
She called Hoboken a “racist city” and claimed that Vision 20/20’s objective is solely to drive out racial minorities.
“What Vision 20/20 will do is and one of their agendas obviously is to make the city of Hoboken all white and rich,” said the woman. “The city of Hoboken is a very racist city. There’s no place for blacks and Hispanics to live once these buildings are demolished.”
Hoboken’s average household income is $140,780.
Save the Projects’ flyers popped up around town late last week, and a very new Facebook group seems to indicate that the group is still getting off the ground. The flyers portray the Vision 20/20 project as racially-driven, and include a statement from the head of Hoboken’s NAACP chapter, Eugene Drayton, who has declined to endorse the project until he has more information. Drayton said he has concerns about whether people who are displaced from the buildings will have a place to go and to return to.
The caller also accused Garcia and his allies of intimidating and lying to HHA residents who are undecided on whether to support Vision 20/20.
“Well the problem right now is that the tenants are being lied to; there’s disinformation going on,” the woman claimed. “The big problem is that Carmelo Garcia, he and his group and the developers have goons.” She also alleged that tenants have been threatened.
The Vision 20/20 project is still in the planning phase and wouldn’t begin until the HHA can secure funding from state and federal housing subsidies. It would replace 806 units of affordable housing in the HHA’s main campus between Third Street and Sixth Street and from Jackson Street to the Palisades Cliffs.
The matter has become heavily politicized. Garcia’s plans have been opposed by allies of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who say that Garcia has not revealed enough information about the plan for them to support it.
Garcia is running for Assembly this November. He said he plans to keep the HHA job.
Garcia did not comment on the radio interview when asked on Monday, saying he hadn’t reviewed the interview yet. If a response is given, it will be posted at
Save the Projects also did not return a phone call by Tuesday morning. Followups will be posted when more information is available.
For a detailed story on the project, see links below to previous stories. For more on the protest and related matters, keep watching and check out the print edition this weekend. — Dean DeChiaro

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