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Lilliam Barrios-Paoli appointed deputy mayor of health and human services

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, right,

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, right, is joined by First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, left, and Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, center, as he announces that Barrios-Paoli will be appointed Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services in Manhattan. (Dec. 12, 2013). Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio Thursday announced the appointment of city government veteran Lilliam Barrios-Paoli as his deputy mayor of health and human services.

Barrios-Paoli is Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Department for the Aging commissioner and also led agencies in Ed Koch's and Rudy Giuliani's administrations.

"I think very few people in the city have a stronger understanding of what the New York City government is capable of doing to help its people," de Blasio said at a news conference in lower Manhattan.

Barrios-Paoli will oversee the expansion of health care facilities, work to curb what de Blasio called the city's "unprecedented level" of homelessness, and otherwise be responsible for improving social services.

De Blasio and Barrios-Paoli -- joined by Anthony Shorris, named first deputy mayor last week -- said they seek to restore rent subsidies that were cut by Bloomberg in 2011 as a means of keeping families out of shelters and off the streets.

"Because this administration backed away from those strategies, I think it led us unfortunately down a bad path and a costly path," de Blasio said.

De Blasio said his deputies would find funding "where it does not appear to exist."

Barrios-Paoli said de Blasio's values -- and the pledge to work toward economic equality that helped him get elected -- are reflective of her own.

"I've spent the bulk of my career trying to work on behalf of the poor. It is incredibly exciting for me to be in administration that really makes that a central tenet," she said.

Bloomberg spokesman Marc La Vorgna declined to comment.

Barrios-Paoli, 67, born and raised in Mexico, also has led the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Employment.

Like Bill Bratton, the incoming NYPD commissioner, she clashed with Giuliani and was ousted from the human resources administration in 1997.

The current deputy mayor of health and human resources, Linda Gibbs, on Twitter called Barrios-Paoli "a true warrior in the fight against inequality and injustice."

De Blasio takes office Jan. 1.

He will join 15 other newly elected mayors Friday at the White House. He said he has a "tremendous ally" in President Barack Obama on immigration reform, transportation and other urban issues.

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