Residents in West New York's six affordable housing developments will be sleeping easier since the addition of live-in police officers at the complexes.
Safety is a priority for many in this New Jersey bedroom community, so West New York mayor Silverio Vega took action. He endorsed a plan in conjunction with the West New York Housing Authority to subsidize the rent for one police officer to set up digs at each of the city's affordable developments.
The mayor calls the initiative a win/win that addresses affordable and workforce housing issues simultaneously. “Growing up here, your next-door neighbor was a fireman, a police officer, a teacher. But a lot of those middle-class people have been squeezed out. We are right on the Hudson River with a view of [midtown Manhattan], and our town is not that affordable to live in any longer,” Vega says. “This idea allows us to not only take care of the security needs of the residents of our buildings, but also take care of the affordable housing needs of our young police officers.”
The two police officers currently enrolled in the program benefit from a subsidized rent (much like on-site superintendents) of $225. The officers live in the complex but otherwise fulfill their regular police duties. Vega believes the program is the first of its kind in New Jersey. “We got approval from HUD at the national level, and it's been very well received by the citizens,” he says. “The police department has been very happy to extend themselves into the community in this way as well. The program has been great.”