December 14, 2016

WJ Resident Thinks Councilwoman Jo Butler Should Be Held Accountable for Recent Remarks

To the Editor:

Princeton Councilwoman Jo Butler [from a transcript of Princeton Council Meeting, Monday November 28]: “I am a little bit worried and this doesn’t have anything to do with this project but with the University’s settlement of that lawsuit; it does seems like we have a lot of our housing in Princeton, and particularly in this neighborhood that will be um, not free market um, housing and so that there are people that will qualify for this homestead exemption, that do qualify for the homestead exemption, and through the University settlement will be able to stay in their homes perhaps longer than they would have and that’s great for them personally but as the price appreciates, all of that price appreciation will go strictly to them and it may take some supply out of the market which because people won’t have to sell their houses in a way that they might have had to sell them without the University settlement and so we’ll have even less supply in the market and there will be fewer opportunities for people at that entry level who would like to move into Princeton so there’s a lot to weigh here I think in this situation.”

I nearly fell out of my chair listening to such reprehensible babble from an “elected official” with an “unfettered free market trumps all” mentality, even at the expense of current residents. At best it displays a remarkable callousness toward the plight of lower income homeowners who just want to stay in their homes. At worst, since it came in the context of the Waxwood on Quarry Street discussion, it sounds like Ms. Butler would prefer that the diversity of this extraordinary neighborhood be eroded.

Is it a bad thing or undesirable thing that individuals in Princeton who qualify for the homestead rebate may be able to stay in their homes longer? And why focus on only the WJ (Witherspoon-Jackson) neighborhood? Under Ms. Butler’s assertion, if it’s unfortunate that families in the WJ neighborhood will be able to stay in their homes longer, would it not also be unfortunate that families in other neighborhoods will also be able to remain in their homes longer … or is it just the WJ neighborhood because of its affordability for first time homeowners as she references.

Unless the comments referenced above can be explained or an apology given by Councilwoman Butler she should be taken to task and held accountable by the following:

First and foremost everyone who lives in the WJ neighborhood and those less fortunate than others in Princeton wherever they may live. Secondly, each of the 869 homeowners, households, and voters, who will be helped by the allocation of the Princeton University settlement based on their eligibility for the homestead rebate. Lastly but certainly not least any and all fair-minded levelheaded citizens of Princeton who understand and appreciate that a roof over one’s head provides shelter and protects those who live inside, regardless of their status and/or income level, and they should be able to live under that roof as long as possible, by any means necessary or available to them.

It is after all their home.

Leighton Newlin

Birch Avenue