New NYCHA head Gregory Russ will be the city’s highest paid official

Posted On Wed, June 19, 2019 By

Posted On Wed, June 19, 2019 By In affordable housing, Policy

Image via Wiki Commons

After missing two deadlines to fill the position, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced that Gregory Russ will be taking over as Chair of NYCHA. Russ, who is currently the head of Minneapolis’ public housing authority and previously led the Cambridge Housing Authority in Massachusetts, will receive an unprecedented salary of $402,628—more than even President Donald Trump makes. That figure comes out to roughly $1 a year for every NYCHA tenant he will represent, as THE CITY reports.

As head of NYCHA, Russ will oversee 175,000 apartments, a huge step up from the 6,300 apartments under the Minneapolis Housing Authority. Russ is an early proponent of Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), an Obama-era program under which housing authorities retain ownership but turn over management of the properties and repairs to private developers.

In Cambridge, Russ put all 2,700 of the authority’s units into RAD during his tenure. Mayor de Blasio initially rejected RAD but has since embraced the program, with controversial plans to convert 62,000 NYCHA units.

“Public housing is a calling. I believe in it. NYCHA and its residents are irreplaceable parts of New York City,” Russ said in a statement. “My mission is simple: to fix residents’ homes today and to leave NYCHA stronger for the next generation.”

Sources close to the process say that several candidates from a list vetted by U.S. Housing Secretary Benjamin Carson and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman turned down the high stakes job before Russ was selected.

“In a national search, Greg Russ stands out as someone with the guts to make big changes and the heart to do right by public housing residents,” de Blasio said in a statement.

City taxpayers will pay for Russ’ generous paycheck, with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development contributing $161,900 annually. Though Russ will become a New York City resident, his family will remain in Minneapolis and he is expecting to make regular trips back to Minnesota. He will begin his job in August.



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