NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Saturday named a new team to run the nation's largest supply of public housing and said his goal is to reverse New York City's "affordability crisis."
"We believe it is our mission to address this inequality crisis," de Blasio told a news conference at the Lincoln Houses in Harlem, where de Blasio and some other mayoral candidates spent a night during last year's campaign. "Public housing, once such a strong pillar of our efforts to provide affordability, is suffering from federal disinvestment and from neglect."
Many residents of the nearly 1,300-apartment complex have lived amid mold and roaches, plus water leaks and peeling plaster that could take months to repair.
De Blasio introduced advocate Shola Olatoye as the new chair of the New York City Housing Authority, which acts as landlord to about 400,000 residents, with another 200,000 in subsidized housing. She most recently worked at a nonprofit that has built more than 44,000 units of affordable housing in the city.
Cecil House will retain his position as the authority's general manager, under whom the average repair wait time has been cut from 134 days to 10 days, according to de Blasio.
Vicki Been is the incoming commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation & Development, which oversees programs to finance and develop affordable housing. The New York University-trained lawyer now heads the school's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.
Gary Rodney, a private developer of affordable units, was named president of the New York City Housing Development Corp., which finances affordable housing.
The mayor himself was a regional director for New York and New Jersey in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton.
As a candidate, de Blasio promised to create at least 200,000 additional units of low- and middle-income housing in the city over a decade.
He said innovative partnerships could be forged with the private sector, pension funds tapped for housing investments and tax loopholes tightened to generate revenue to retrofit buildings to make them energy-efficient.
He said his administration is launching a "total reset" of housing policies, starting with a better relationship between city officials and residents.