De Blasio Appoints Shola Olatoye Chair of the New York City Housing Authority; Other Top Officials Announced


Shola Olatoye with de Blasio in background

[City Hall]

Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced four key appointments to his administration, pledging to expand access to affordable housing and upgrade the city’s aging public housing stock.

The mayor laid out a range of strategies to reach those goals, including launching inclusive housing programs that serve both low-income New Yorkers and the middle class, developing innovative strategies to leverage new capital to spur housing production and preservation, and working across city agencies to maximize every opportunity to address the affordability issues facing New Yorkers.

The mayor named Shola Olatoye as chair of the New York City Housing Authority, with Cecil House serving as the authority’s general manager. The mayor also appointed Vicki Been as the commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and Gary D. Rodney as president of the Housing Development Corporation.

The administration is working toward a goal of building and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade and addressing longstanding health and safety repair issues affecting the city’s more than 400,000 housing authority tenants.

“We are going to take a new approach to this crisis that holds nothing back. From doing more to protect tenants in troubled buildings, to innovating new partnerships with the private sector, to forging a new relationship with our NYCHA communities, every decision we make will focus on maximizing the affordability of our neighborhoods,” de Blasio said. “These agencies are going to work together as a collective to lift up families and make this one city—where everyone rises together.”

Mayor de Blasio has committed to fundamentally changing the city’s relationship with its public housing tenants. NYCHA is the nation’s largest public housing authority, and its aging buildings are in dire need of health and safety repairs, and upgrades to make them more resilient.

Leading those efforts will be Shola Olatoye, an experienced coalition builder with an extensive background leading community-based development across the five boroughs. Olatoye will focus on strategic goals like expanding employment opportunities for NYCHA residents, developing plans to retrofit buildings, and more fully supporting tenants—including the 40 percent of residents over the age of 62.

Olatoye will be joined by Cecil House, who will continue to serve as the New York City Housing Authority’s general manager, a position he has held for the past 18 months. House will focus on continuing to reduce repair wait times and improving the resiliency of buildings to severe weather.

“I am honored to be asked by the mayor to run New York City’s Housing Authority,” Olatoye said. “Everything we do will be focused on improving the quality of life for our tenants, especially protecting their safety. This is an enormous opportunity. Public housing helped people in my family. I want it to do the same in the future for others.”

“I cannot wait to work with Shola and this administration to make New Yorkers proud of their public housing again. We’ve never had a leadership this committed to making that happen, and to treating our NYCHA tenants with the same respect as every other tenant in this city. We are ready to roll up our sleeves, get to work, and change the way we do business,” Cecil House, said.

As commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Vicki Been will be charged with protecting tenants, rehabilitating troubled buildings, and finding new opportunities to create affordable apartments. Been is the Director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, and is a national leader on land use, urban policy and affordable housing. Most recently, she has worked extensively assessing the impact of Superstorm Sandy on housing and neighborhoods.

“We’re going to take a much more aggressive approach to protecting and building affordable apartments that responds to the crisis we’re in,” Been said. “From apartments approaching the end of their subsidy to homes lost to Superstorm Sandy, we need faster and more innovative strategies that seize every opportunity to keep apartments affordable and accelerate the pace of bringing new ones online.”

As president of the Housing Development Corporation—the city’s housing finance arm—Gary D. Rodney will play a critical role in the preservation and creation of affordable apartments. Rodney is currently Executive Vice President for Development of Omni New York LLC, where he financed community-based affordable housing projects that rehabilitated some of the most distressed buildings across the five boroughs.

“This work is truly a collaborative effort that includes housing advocates, community groups, developers, lenders, and an administration committed to long lasting affordable housing. We are going to continue to foster existing partnerships and aggressively seek out new ones to put more shovels in the ground, rehabilitate more distressed buildings, and really push the mayor’s affordable housing plan. Most importantly, we will continue to find creative ways to finance the best quality housing that will be affordable to all New Yorkers,” Rodney, said.

Shola Olatoye: Shola Olatoye comes to the de Blasio administration from an exceptional career in community development finance, housing advocacy and real estate.

Throughout her entire career, Olatoye has been an agent of change and manager of complex and large collaborations, effecting urban neighborhood revitalization. Olatoye has a wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors, and a unique ability to leverage both to create public-private partnerships aimed toward preserving and creating affordable housing and communities. Most recently, Olatoye was Vice President and New York Market Leader for Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that has helped build or preserve more than 44,000 affordable homes for lower-income New Yorkers and invested more than $2.5 billion in and around the city. At Enterprise, Olatoye has overseen a cross-functional team that works with community partners, the public sector and private capital sources to build and preserve approximately 3,000 affordable homes per year in New York City.

Olatoye has also overseen a number of public-private partnership initiatives at Enterprise, including a 2013 project the East Harlem Center for Living and Learning located in East Harlem, in which Enterprise provided more than $12 million in debt and equity to create a new 151,000-square-foot multi-family, mixed-use development with 88 new affordable apartments, a 58,000-square-foot K-8 charter school, and 6,000 square feet of office space dedicated to not-for-profit organizations. Olatoye has also served as a Vice President and Senior Community Development Manager of HSBC Bank; Director of HR&A Advisors, Inc., an advisory and economic development consulting firm; and Director of Community Outreach at the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc.

Olatoye is the daughter of a Nigerian immigrant and working class mom, who hails from Bedford Stuyvesant. She lives in Harlem with her husband and two sons.

Cecil House: Cecil House has deep management experience, and the familiarity with New York City’s Housing Authority to truly understand where it needs the most attention to fix what has long been a broken system.

As the current general manager of the housing authority, he leads a staff of more than 11,000 employees and manages an annual budget in excess of $3 billion dollars in federal, state and local assistance. He has a proven track record of implementing reforms that respond to the needs of NYCHA’s tenants.

Since joining the housing authority in August 2012, House has designed and implemented a comprehensive plan to reduce the authority’s backlog of repair and maintenance requests. By January 2014, the average time it takes NYCHA to respond to maintenance requests had dropped to just 10 days from 134 days in January 2013, and from 249 days to 48 days for skilled repairs. Prior to joining NYCHA, House was Senior Vice President for the Operations Support Business Unit and Chief Procurement Officer for California Southern Edison (CSE), one of the largest electric utilities in the United States. House has also held senior management roles at the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSE&G) in New Jersey, and was an attorney in the New York City offices of the law firms McDermott, Will & Emory and Debevois & Plimpton.

The son of a coal miner and a nurse’s aide, House was raised in Virginia and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia; a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School; and an M.B.A. from Columbia University. House lives in Manhattan with his husband, T.J. Stevenson, and their three children.

Vicki Been: Vicki Been brings a strong record of advocating for housing equity with a focus on the intersection of land use, urban policy, and housing, especially in New York City. From writing one of the first articles on the distributional fairness of environmental and land use policies, to her research on the fairness and effectiveness of foreclosure responses, focusing on neighborhoods, families, and children, Been has a keen understanding of the issues everyday New Yorkers face when looking for affordable housing.  

Been most recently served as the Director of NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, the Boxer Family Professor of Law at NYU School of Law and Affiliated Professor of Public Policy of the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Been graduated from Colorado State University and received her J.D. from New York University School of Law. Been has served as a Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and an Associate Professor of Law at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Been lives in Greenwich Village with her husband Richard Revesz, the Lawrence King Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at NYU School of Law. They have two children, Joshua and Sarah.

Gary D. Rodney: Gary Rodney brings more than a decade of experience financing affordable housing development, and is considered an emerging leader in the industry. Rodney previously served as Executive Vice President for Development of Omni New York LLC, a leading developer of affordable housing in New York City and the state.

In his role at Omni, Rodney was directly responsible for securing the acquisition and preservation of 5,500 units of affordable housing in New York and Massachusetts—with an aggregate transaction value of approximately $950 million. Prior to joining Omni, Rodney was the Director of Development for BFC Partners, a New York City-based real estate development company that specializes in green, mixed-income, mixed-use developments in neighborhoods around the city. From 2001 to 2006, Rodney served in various roles at the New York City Housing Development Corporation, beginning his career at the agency as a project manager and rising to Vice President for Development in 2005.

Rodney has also worked for the New York City Housing Partnership, managing the development of retail, residential, and mixed-use homeownership projects, and at the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (BID), where he was the Economic Development Coordinator. He received his B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1997 and a Masters of Urban Planning from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in 1999.

The son of Haitian immigrants, Rodney lives in Tarrytown with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



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