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Mayor de Blasio Appoints Heads of NYCHA, HPD, HDC Housing ‘Dream Team’

February 8, 2014
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Shola Olatoye appointed NYCHA Chair, Cecil House to serve as NYCHA General Manager, Vicki Been to head HPD, Gary D. Rodney to direct HDC
(Photo City of NY)

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced four key appointments to the leadership of his administration’s housing programs on Saturday.  The Mayor named Shola Olatoye as Chair of the New York City Housing Authority, with Cecil House serving as the authority’s General Manager. The Mayor also appointed Vicki Been as the Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and Gary D. Rodney as President of the Housing Development Corporation.

The Mayor’s appointments quickly drew praise from housing providers and advocates.

The Mayor has committed to a goal of building and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade and addressing longstanding health and safety repair issues affecting the city’s more than 400,000 housing authority tenants.

“We are going to take a new approach to this crisis that holds nothing back,” said de Blasio. “From doing more to protect tenants in troubled buildings, to innovating new partnerships with the private sector, to forging a new relationship with our NYCHA communities, every decision we make will focus on maximizing the affordability of our neighborhoods. These agencies are going to work together as a collective to lift up families and make this one city—where everyone rises together.”

Shola Olatoye most recently served as Vice President and New York Market Leader for Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that has helped build or preserve more than 44,000 affordable homes for lower-income New Yorkers and invested more than $2.5 billion in and around the city. She has also served as a Vice President and Senior Community Development Manager of HSBC Bank; Director of HR&A Advisors, Inc., an advisory and economic development consulting firm; and Director of Community Outreach at the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc.

“I am honored to be asked by the mayor to run New York City’s Housing Authority. Everything we do will be focused on improving the quality of life for our tenants, especially protecting their safety. This is an enormous opportunity. Public housing helped people in my family. I want it to do the same in the future for others,” said incoming NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye.

Olatoye will be joined by Cecil House, who will continue to serve as the New York City Housing Authority’s General Manager, a position he has held for the past 18 months. House will focus on continuing to reduce repair wait times and improving the resiliency of buildings to severe weather.

As Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Vicki Been will be charged with protecting tenants, rehabilitating troubled buildings, and finding new opportunities to create affordable apartments. Been is the Director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, and is a national leader on land use, urban policy and affordable housing. Most recently, she has worked extensively assessing the impact of Superstorm Sandy on housing and neighborhoods. Been graduated from Colorado State University, received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and has served as a Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and an Associate Professor of Law at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

“We’re going to take a much more aggressive approach to protecting and building affordable apartments that responds to the crisis we’re in. From apartments approaching the end of their subsidy to homes lost to Superstorm Sandy, we need faster and more innovative strategies that seize every opportunity to keep apartments affordable and accelerate the pace of bringing new ones online,” said Been.

As President of the Housing Development Corporation—the city’s housing finance arm—Gary D. Rodney will play a critical role in the preservation and creation of affordable apartments. Rodney is currently Executive Vice President for Development of Omni New York LLC, where he financed community-based affordable housing projects that rehabilitated some of the most distressed buildings across the five boroughs.  He previously served as Executive Vice President for Development of Omni New York LLC, a leading developer of affordable housing in New York City and the state.  Rodney has also worked for the New York City Housing Partnership, managing the development of retail, residential, and mixed-use homeownership projects, and at the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (BID), where he was the Economic Development Coordinator.

“This is a stellar team to implement Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious 200,000-unit affordable housing plan to make New York a more equitable city, especially for low-income families,” said Rachel Fee, Coordinator of Housing First!, a broad and diverse coalition of community, business, labor, civic and religious organizations.

“We welcome and are optimistic that the appointment of Ms. Shola Olatoya as commissioner today is a turning point for NYCHA and it’s 600,000 residents,” said Denise M. Miranda, Esq., Managing Director of the Safety Net Project at the Urban Justice Center. “The agency has for years been mismanaged and plagued by disinvestment and government disinterest.  Mayor de Blasio and Ms. Olatoya have their work cut out for them, especially when it comes to finding new alternatives to the bad procedures, policies and proposals from the prior administration.”

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