NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Shola Olatoye is stepping down as head of the New York City Housing Authority, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Monday night.
Stan Brezenoff will be named interim chair of the embattled agency, the mayor said.
NYCHA been the subject of a political sparring match between de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo of late.
Cuomo, after touring a complex in East Harlem last month, pledged more state money to fix the “disturbing” conditions seen in buildings across the network.
“There is no one who will see what I saw and allow it to continue,” Cuomo said.
In the latest dig at de Blasio, the governor declared a state of emergency in the city’s public housing, giving control of repairs to an outside monitor.
Under the governor’s plan, an independent monitor will be appointed to hire an outside contractor to fix things. He’s also giving $550 million in state funds toward repairs.
De Blasio tried an end run, demanding the money now and given directly to NYCHA.
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“Public housing tenants deserve that funding to be quickly applied to NYCHA’s most pressing needs. This funding cannot be held hostage to the same delays and dynamics as in previous years,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen told CBS2 last week.
The independent monitor will be selected within 60 days, the outside contractor will be chosen 30 days after that, and the contractor will then have authority over the money from the state plus city funds.
“The Housing Authority that the Chair inherited four years ago faced bankruptcy, an inability to make basic repairs and an alarming surge in violence,” de Blasio said in a statement provided to the media Monday night. “She was a change agent from Day One. Crime is down. Repairs are faster. Finances are stabilized. And NYCHA is putting record investment from the City to work making life better for the 400,000 New Yorkers that call NYCHA home. We’re grateful for her service. With a proven track record of transforming large agencies, I’m confident that Stan Brezenoff will help to continue our progress while we search for a new chair.”
Public Advocate Leticia thanked Olatoye for her service, but added “we are long overdue for a fresh start at NYCHA.”
“It is time to move forward and open a new chapter at NYCHA, one that continuously puts the needs of tenants first,” James added in a statement. “This must include a thorough and effective response, not just to the lead and heating crises, but also to the day-to-day needs of NYCHA and the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who call these buildings home. While this change will not cure all the problems that have been plaguing NYCHA for years, a reorganization of its management structure, including financial transparency and government accountability, will go a long way in improving operations and conditions. Every New Yorker, including those residents in our public housing, deserves a safe and decent home and this is a step in the right direction.”
Olatoye said late Monday she was “incredibly proud of the leadership team we’ve assembled and the strides we’ve made over the last 4 years to speed up repair times, reduce crime, launch a major development program and bring NYCHA into the 21st century.”
She called her time with NYCHA “an honor.”
I leave this role secure in the knowledge that we created a path for a stronger and safer NYCHA in the years ahead,” Olatoye continued.
De Blasio and Olatoye were scheduled to tour the Ocean Bay Bayside Apartments in the Edgemere section of Queens on Tuesday.