Project Rehab was the Nixon administration’s plan to experiment in the rehabilitation of 20 American cities. The plan provided funding for towns, chosen in competition, to conduct a large-scale, coordinated residential rehabilitation program. A Hoboken city team and I made a presentation to a HUD committee, and, to our amazement, were one of the cities selected, the smallest one in the country, in fact, to be so designated. In the blink of an eye, Hoboken went from being “the armpit of Hudson County” to a federal darling, recipient of a major block of a HUD subsidy.
In the beginning, there was resistance to the idea of rehabilitating the city. Many of the political leaders wanted a “new” city – the standard “demolish and clear” urban renewal of the 1950s and 1960s. Fortunately, we were able to convince them to try rehabilitation of the existing streetscapes and buildings.
In 1973, Mayor Capiello opened our first completed project on the 1200 block of Willow Avenue, a deteriorated area of traditional Hoboken walk-up tenements that was now rehabilitated into modern, elevator buildings. This was only the beginning. The rehabilitation of whole blocks affecting entire neighborhoods followed. This became the signature work of Applied Housing Associates, and we soon became the rising stars of housing rehabilitation in New Jersey.
Hoboken was now beginning to attract New York professionals.