De Blasio Names Housing and City Planning Chief

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 to highlight complaints at public sector housing. “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 Shola Olatoye as the new chair of the city’s 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 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.

De Blasio also appointed Carl Weisbrod, a veteran mayoral aide, to lead the city’s planning commission.

Weisbrod, who has worked for four previous mayors in more than 35 years of government service, helped clean up the formerly crime-ridden Times Square into a safe tourist destination. He also led the Alliance for Downtown New York as the area was rebuilt after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Vicki Been is the incoming commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation & Development, which oversees programs to finance and develop affordable housing.

Gary Rodney, a private developer of affordable units, was named president of the New York City Housing Development Corp., which finances affordable housing. He will be influential in fulfilling de Blasio’s campaign promise to create at least 200,000 additional units of low- and middle-income housing in the city over a decade.