Public housing chair makes waves at city agency

February 08, 2012 12:00PM

John Rhea, the chairman of New York City’s public housing agency, has been causing quite a stir in city affairs since he took the position in 2009, according to a profile in the New York Times.

While the former banking executive has been credited with taking a much-needed radical approach at the helm of the New York City Housing Authority and securing federal stimulus money to pay the agency upward of $65 million a year and cover operating costs for 21 developments, he has also been criticized for allegedly sparking an exodus of well-qualified officials, who left in the wake of a series of computer glitches affecting Section 8 housing benefits.

The departed included senior official Michael Kelly, who left NYCHA to head up the Philadelphia Housing Authority after just one year at the agency.

Rhea said he’d come into the position with strict instructions and had not had time to mess around.

“The mayor gave me a mandate to fix the finances, to make NYCHA less insular and more cooperative and partner-oriented with its sister agencies and with other entities across the city, and to improve the quality of life for residents,” he told the Times. “That’s not a mandate for ‘keep doing what you’re doing.’ That’s a mandate for transformation and change.” [NYT]