The city council Wednesday night approved a grant to help the Hoboken YMCA complete a $15 million affordable housing project.
The grant for up to $500,000 will help furnish 76 new single-room efficiency units, in addition to the 20 men who are already housed at the facility.
Paul Somerville, President of the Board of Trustees of the Hoboken-North Hudson YMCA, said it reflects the city's committment to supporting the cash-strapped organization's mission.
"Had we not gone forward with this project, there would not still be a YMCA in town," he said. "We would have been forced to sell our building."
In March 2010, the organization abruplty suspended its health and family services. The fitness center remains closed.
The grant for the project will come from the city's $2 million affordable housing settlement with a development firm.
The unanimous vote by the council was preceeded by a long debate over the merits of taking half a million dollars out of the fund.
Councilman Tim Occhipinti called it a "government bailout."
"This money is coming from a settlement the city has obtained to create new opportunities for affordable housing where your organization is charged with completing a project you've already undertaken," Occhipinti said.
Somerville said the funds were needed to complete the project which faced $2 million in cost overruns from changes in the economy and requirements from investors. The YMCA's boiler was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and will cost $9,000 to replace.
Councilman David Mello said awarding the grant would guarantee more units in the city's shrinking affordable housing stock.
"We have an organization saying they will provide affordable housing for 76 more people than is being provided today," Mello said.
The units will be filled through a lottery system. Applications are still available at the Hoboken-North Hudson YMCA at 1301 Washington Street.