Dear Members of the Jersey City Times Editorial Board,

I am writing in response to the opinion piece you ran last week by the Rev. Raymond Angel Guzman Caraballo regarding the proposed Bayfront development of 440.  The Reverend raised some excellent points regarding  the cost/benefit analyses of the proposal, and that regardless of how our “progressive” leaders frame it, the benefit is clearly to that of the developers and at the cost of the working people of Jersey City.  Additionally, I concur with the Reverend’s curiosity surrounding how this deal was made without any community input.

Depending on which source you use, the median household income in Jersey City is between $76,000 and $86,000 and the median individual income is between $46,000 and $48,000, yet, according to Zillow, the median rental price is $2800 and the median home price is just under $600,000, so please help me understand, who is the “affordable” housing for? (The figures I have seen state that $2500 for a studio is considered “affordable”)

I only moved to Jersey City two years ago and I quickly fell in love with it.  It is heartbreaking to see hard working people who created such a vibrant and welcoming community be pushed out because of greedy developers and politicians.  We are in the midst of a nationwide housing crisis, so why aren’t our leaders treating this as the emergency that it is?  Instead of giving sweetheart deals to real estate developers and private equity firms, why aren’t they working with non-profit builders?  Why aren’t they using vacancy taxes or even eminent domain to convert empty offices or apartments into housing for hard working people- native Jersey City residents and refugees alike.  

Our very democracy is at stake, partially because people, myself included, have lost faith in the institutions that we were raised to trust because all we see is corruption and a revolving door between elected officials, corporate media, and billionaire businesses.  A free press is meant to act as the fourth branch of government- the one responsible for reporting to the public.  So, where are the receipts?  Where exactly is our tax money going?  I’ve tried to get on the city controller’s page and I just get a 404 error. 

What about the school board?  JC pays nearly $10000 above the national average, per student, yet some schools don’t have working water fountains?  Where is the money going?  How many elected officials in Hudson County received campaign contributions from these developers?  And what can members of the community who are strongly opposed to this deal do?  Until we have more transparency, we’ll have less engagement, and our democracy cannot withstand apathy. 

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