Voices in Solidarity: Asbury Park rent stabilization controversary

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Signs hanging outside windows saying No Job, No Rent
No Job, No Rent photo from A.P.A.H.C. website

Property Owners Coalition vs. activist Felicia Simmons on affordable housing

Asbury Park Property Owners Coalition logo
Asbury Park Property Owners Coalition

The Asbury Park Property Owners Coalition is aggressive say housing advocates. in a February 18th rent stabilization ordinance meeting with local municipality leaders and the Asbury Park Affordable Housing Coalition they were at odds.  Mayor John Moore says he wants to find a compromise for all parties while Felicia Simmons, a long-time housing activist with the  Asbury Park Housing Coalition, feels the time for compromise is long past.

“Renters were not there to negotiate. They are hostile, and I’m over that,” said Simmons in a phone interview. “To me, they have blood on their hands.”

The Property Owners Coalition wants a six percent rent increase. This amount is the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Meanwhile, the Affordable Housing Coalition has proposed a smaller four percent increase. Local rents will increase with rising prices in the housing market in either case.

In Asbury Park, property taxes, housing costs, and rents have gone up according to 2018 Census Data. Household incomes are lower in Asbury Park (Averages as low as $10,000 per year) compared to the rest of the country, where the median household income was $41,336 as of 2018.

In Asbury Park, property taxes, housing costs, and rents have gone up according to 2018 Census Data. Household incomes are lower in Asbury Park (Averages as low as $10,000 per year) compared to the rest of the country, where the median household income was $41,336 as of 2018.

Axiom Communications of Rutherford, NJ are a team of legal specialists working with Asbury Park Property Coalition, as shown in a press release dated Dec. 15, 2020. The same legal experts that worked with the Neptune Property Owners in 2013.

The Property Owners say that the rent ordinance will not benefit low-income people. However the Affordable Housing Coalition disagrees. They have proposed an ordinance themselves that includes a lower rent increase. As rent rises without stabilization, long-time and lifelong residents struggle, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn is a tenant’s rights lawyer and has showed support for the rent stabilization ordinance. It was proposed with a petition of 700 signatures. At a December 22nd vote, Quinn voted yes on the rent stabilization ordinance. The rest of the city council had voted no.

“The mayor did say he was hopeful that the council, the affordable housing coalition, and the property owners’ group could negotiate a compromise acceptable to all three parties,” said Mayor John Moore in an NJ.com article published Dec 18, 2020.

“The proposed [rent stabilization] ordinance is incredibly poorly conceived and drafted, clearly an unsophisticated law that is unworkable and inconsistent with its own motivations,” said the Property Owners on their website. They want fewer restrictions on rent increases.

“The only reason property owners need to organize together like this is to plan against rent stabilization,” said Simmons. The Affordable Housing Coalition also proposes that landlords cannot raise rent above the four percent inflation limit without being seen in front of a review board to justify raising rent above the limit proposed. The Property Owners Coalition finds these terms unreasonable.

“The only thing we agreed on was taking it to the streets,” said Simmons. She said they will be building awareness of the rent stabilization ordinance. As homeless numbers rise in many states like New Jersey, Simmons feels there is no better time to implement equity for the long-lived residents of Asbury Park.

The current rent stabilization ordinance will be voted on, April 20th. So far, Asbury Park has have yet to draw up an ordinance of it’s own.