If elected, Bill de Blasio vowed to clean house at NYCHA – beginning with the sacking of Chairman John Rhea — and charged that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ignored the conditions endured by NYCHA’s 600,000 tenants during his 12 years in office.
“At minimum, as a way forward, there should be a mayoral-control mindset vis-à-vis public housing,” mayoral front-runner de Blasio told the New York Daily News editorial board. “We’re going to have to rework the operational approach at NYCHA.”
At the top of his list of Bloomberg missteps was the appointment of Rhea, a former Lehman Brothers investment banker who had zero public sector experience before ascending to the helm of public housing in 2009.
“John Rhea was not the right person. He did not have background in running an agency like that,” de Blasio told the Daily News, promising to replace him with “someone who has been deeply involved in housing issues in the public sector.”
De Blasio, himself a former top official at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has criticized NYCHA’s mismanagement throughout his mayoral run, slamming the authority’s plan to lease public land at eight Manhattan projects for private apartment buildings, the majority of which would rent at market rates.
Rhea has claimed the plan would raise $50 million a year to fund building repairs, but tenants at seven of the eight developments have rejected the proposal.
A development plan of some sort, however, may be “believable and acceptable, but it has to be carefully constructed,” de Blasio added, saying he wouldn’t rule out the possibility.
But, he said, he would not do it the “way it was done by Bloomberg.” [NYDN] — Julie Strickland