De Blasio names new chiefs for housing programs

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announces the team who will help him with his affordable and public housing goals at a press conference in the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Feb. 8, 2014. From left to right: Cecil House as NYCHA General Manager, Shola Olatoye as NYCHA Chair, Vicki Been as HPD head, and Gary D. Rodney as HDC director. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

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Mayor Bill de Blasio, promising a "total reset" of predecessor Michael Bloomberg's housing policies, Saturday announced the appointment of four officials to oversee the city's primary housing agencies.

Shola Olatoye, 39, will chair the New York City Housing Authority, the nation's largest, with 400,000 tenants and 332 projects.

Cecil House, 52, will stay on as the authority's general manager.

Vicki Been, 57, will lead the Housing Preservation and Development agency, which develops and encourages below-market-rate housing.

Gary D. Rodney, 38, will be president of the city's Housing Development Corp., which helps finance such housing.

The mayor, a former federal housing official who spent a night during his mayoral campaign sleeping in a public housing apartment, said he would seek to expedite backlogged repairs in the projects.

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He said he would seek far more input from NYCHA's tenants than did Bloomberg's administration.

De Blasio said he would review plans to lease vacant NYCHA land for private development, a Bloomberg policy. Any leasing of the land for market-rate apartments would need to benefit the existing tenants, he said.

De Blasio said they would employ mandatory inclusionary zoning, a policy that requires a certain share of new developments to include below-market rate apartments.

The mayor also ruled out any thought of privatizing public housing units.

Olatoye said she would work to "green" the authority's buildings to make them environmentally friendly.

Together with Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen and Carl Weisbrod, whom de Blasio appointed a day earlier to head the city's planning commission, the group will work to deliver on one of the mayor's campaign pledges: to build or maintain 200,000 units of housing that poor and moderate-income New Yorkers can afford.

"We are committed to using our public housing to protect people and to lift them up and help them through this crisis we face," the mayor said.

De Blasio called out by name John Rhea, Bloomberg's final housing authority chairman, and chastised Bloomberg for failing to provide leadership on housing.

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Said de Blasio: "He did not provide the kind of mayoral leadership for NYCHA that it needed. "

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