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Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla welcomes Councilwoman Vanessa Falco as the new head of the City’s Division of Housing. Photo courtesy of

On August 5, the creation of the Division of Housing of the Hoboken City Council was announced by Mayor Ravi Bhalla. Mayor Bhalla has appointed Councilwoman Vanessa Falco as the leader of the Housing Division, who will begin her new position in January 2022 following the end of her term on the City Council in December 2021.

According to an announcement made by Mayor Bhalla, the goal of the Housing Division will be to provide Hoboken residents with more resources and greater access to affordable housing options.  The Division of Housing will be situated within the existing Department of Community Development, which is responsible for overseeing all property development in Hoboken. The Housing Division will also oversee the Rent Control Office. By restructuring the Department of Community Development to include the Division of Housing, the new addition can better utilize funding allocated to the Rent Control Office and increase access to affordable housing resources to residents.

Falco’s appointment as the head of the Housing Division was met with some criticism from Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher and Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino. In a joint press release, Fisher and Giattino cited specific state codes, including one that stated “No independent local authority shall, for a period of one year next subsequent to the termination of office of a member of that authority […] employ for compensation […] any former member of that authority.” Fisher and Giattino also called on the Attorney General to investigate the legality of Mayor Bhalla’s appointment. Fisher and Giattino’s claims were disputed by many city council members, including Phil Cohen, Jim Doyle, Emily Jabbour, and Falco herself. In a memo from the law firm Antonelli Kantor, P.C., which has an active contract with the city of Hoboken, it was determined that no ethics violations were made by the appointment; “There is no basis in fact or law to assert that this action was taken by the Mayor for his own personal gain or to garner influence; therefore, such actions are lawful and not in violation of any section of the Local Government Ethics Law.”

Councilwoman Falco was born and raised in Hoboken and was the first African American to be elected to the Hoboken City Council as Council at Large, where she is one of three members at large that represent the city. Falco is also the current Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee. As an at-large councilwoman, Falco has undertaken several affordable housing initiatives in Hoboken, including the introduction of legislation that requires developers to pay a fee of 1.5% towards the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and collaborating with Chris Brown, Director of Community Development to secure a developer for a new senior housing development at 11th Street and Willow Avenue.

As the leader of the Housing Division, Falco’s responsibilities will include auditing the city’s affordable housing stock, preparing city ordinances in order to increase the amount of available affordable housing, and working with the Director of Community Development to ensure that development projects are allocating required funds to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Additionally, Falco will act as the city’s liaison to the Hoboken Housing Authority to increase community engagement on affordable housing in Hoboken.