The dubious evolution of Hoboken

Dear Editor:

Monica Stromwall (Reporter, Aug. 27) isn’t the only Hobokenite leaving town in tears because she cannot afford to live here. Others are those on a fixed income who cannot afford the recent hike – thanks to Mayor Zimmer – of their property taxes due to the reval. Instead of doing some much-needed belt-tightening in bloated City Hall, she decided to expand the girth of that barrel of pork by loosening the belt another notch, and she did that by calling for a revaluation of every house in Hoboken.

As members of the Beatnik generation, my wife and I discovered Hoboken in 1961. Nobody wanted to move here then. We found a five-room railroad apartment at 39 Second St., between River and Hudson, for $35 a month, $25 if we swept the hallway occasionally. We lived on the top floor overlooking the river where ships still docked and longshoremen still unloaded them. We had to bathe in the big double sink in the kitchen. No heat, but the kitchen stove was “gas on gas.” We installed a little potbellied coal stove we bought in a second-hand store on First Street called Alrocks, and had coal delivered for $35 a ton.

 I found a job in a bookstore in Manhattan and earned the minimum wage of $1.50 an hour. It was enough to live on. A glass of beer in El Jim, the corner bar, cost 15 cents a glass and every third one was free. Still, we were as happy as young people in love can be.

But even if Hoboken had been the Garden of Eden, it could not hold this restless Adam and Eve forever. We drove around the country several times, every time we landed back in Hoboken the rents had gone up, but not much. On Willow, across from Tedesco’s fish store, we paid $55 a month for a railroad apt. Two or three years later, above Leo’s Grandevous Restaurant, $65, and a couple of years after that, across from City Hall, $90.

Our Bohemian decade came to a close with the birth of a child. We took a job in Saudi Arabia, and in a few years had managed to save $45,000, which was enough to pay cash in 1975 for a brownstone in Hoboken. Some neighbors thought we had paid too much. As the years went by, taxes and all other bills increased, as they always do, and in 2013, before the mayor decided to do her “reval” (after 25 years without one), our property taxes were around $12,000 a year. After the reval, our house – bought for 45 thousand in 1975 – was assessed at nearly $1.8 million. Consequently, our property tax was doubled.

We now have to shell out $25,000 to the City of Hoboken to be allowed to live here.

 Every day we get mail from Realtors showing this house, saying “That house in your neighborhood is selling for $2 million,” and wouldn’t we like to let the Realtor sell ours? Two million dollars! What that figure represents is the inevitable inflation that results in a Federal Reserve that prints money out of thin air, “money” that it lends to war-crazy Washington so that it can continue its endless multi-trillion $ bombing of foreigners. Pretty soon, as happened in Germany after WW1, it will take a wheelbarrow of these dollars to buy a loaf of bread.

Wages have not kept up with inflation. That’s why someone with a middle class income, why Monica Stromwall has to tearfully bid farewell to Hoboken, because, she says, her apartment is not big enough for a growing family, and “We cannot afford to buy an average brownstone that costs about $2 million.”

T. Weed

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