Weehawken continues to seek opportunities to expand its workforce housing.
Mayor Richard Turner told the Hudson Reporter that the accommodation is intended for any employee of the canton in a context of an increase in the local cost of living.
“As prices go up, a lot of employees, especially new employees, it might be the police or anyone working for the city, the problem is they can’t afford to keep working “, said Turner.
Turner said it was important to ensure township employees live in the municipality.
“We try to provide housing for the workforce because once the employees have moved it is very difficult to get them back in an emergency, given the distances and everything that can happen” , said Turner. “It’s always better when your employees are local. So we try to keep them as local as possible.
This is especially true when emergencies and things of that nature arise in Weehawken.
“If we have an emergency, they’re readily available,” Turner said. “Like I said, if they move five, ten, fifteen, twenty miles, you never know what’s going on. There’s only a few roads in this county and a few exit roads. And sometimes it’s hard to get them back in an emergency with the traffic and everything so we always find really better than when an employee lives in town, that solves a lot of our problems especially when we have emergencies .
So far 28 manpower housing and counting
Currently, Weehawken is home to 28 residential units intended for workforce housing. Turner said the township is making sure more new construction is added.
“A lot of new buildings require a percentage of units for workforce housing,” Turner said.
According to Turner, there are 8 more workforce housing units along the way. The township recently helped acquire a former bank property which will be converted into a commercial ground floor with already existing residential units on the second and third floors.
“We just acquired eight from the old Wells Fargo Bank,” Turner said. “We made a joint purchase and we are doing a co-ownership with them. Someone will own the ground floor of Wells Fargo, which has the upstairs units that we will control.
Turner said the units are currently occupied, but over time will transition to housing units for Weehawken employees.
“It will be by transition,” Turner said. “Obviously there are people living there now. So as they leave, we will make them available to employees. These can be employees from all walks of life.
Turner reiterated the importance of projects like this in keeping employees local despite the rising cost of living.
“It’s a very difficult area,” Turner said. “If you move west of Route 495, it’s hard to come back repeatedly.”
The hunt for social housing continues
And as recently as July, the city council passed an ordinance authorizing the potential expansion of workforce housing, though the township is still looking.
“That order was for a particular building,” Turner said. “But it’s a program we want to expand. We now have twenty-eight units, and we would like to do a few more. This keeps employees in town, where they are more readily available than they would be once they start moving.
In addition to the aforementioned eight units on the road above the former Wells Fargo Bank at 3522 Park Avenue, the Township will continue to consider additional workforce housing units as opportunities will arise.
“We have to wait for something to go on sale,” Turner said. “Then we’ll see if it’s worth buying, like we did at the bank. When we build a new building, we need a set aside, but we don’t have many new buildings planned. »
Turner said Weehawken reviews properties when they come up for sale, considering workforce housing.
“When a building comes up for sale, we do an analysis,” Turner said. “We see if it’s worth buying or not, what kind of repairs have been done and whatever.”
The hunt continues for properties to convert to workforce housing in Weehawken. Turner concluded, “We’re always looking for opportunities to do that.”
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