The Real Deal New York

Shola Olatoye to step down as NYCHA chair

Longtime city administrator Stan Brezenoff will be named interim chair
April 10, 2018 11:00AM

From left: Queensbridge Houses, NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye. (Credit: City of New York)

New York City Housing Authority chairwoman Shola Olatoye’s rocky tenure leading the city’s long-troubled public housing system is coming to an end.

Olatoye and Mayor Bill de Blasio plan to announce her resignation on Tuesday in the Rockaways at a public housing development, according to Politico. Her interim replacement will be Stan Brezenoff, who has previously led the Port Authority and the city’s public hospital system.

The past few months have been especially trying at NYCHA for Olatoye, as she has faced growing criticism over poor living conditions, extensive heat and hot water outages and inadequate lead paint inspections. State officials are planning to name an external monitor to oversee the agency, and federal officials could make a similar move.

The lead paint scandal in particular ramped up criticism of Olatoye. It began with a Department of Investigation report in November saying she had knowingly falsified federal reports about inspections for lead paint, and DOI commissioner Mark Peters later accused Olatoye of misleading the City Council in February when she testified under oath about the training NYCHA employees received to do lead paint inspections.

However, Olatoye was also able to institute some reforms at the beleaguered agency, including balancing NYCHA’s budget four years in a row, reducing central office costs by $23 million and implementing a pilot program of staggered work shifts.

In an interview with Politico, Olatoye said she never planned to stay on as NYCHA chair for more than one term.

“When I was appointed by the mayor four years ago, my intention was to stay for the first term,” she said, “and you know, it’s been an amazing, maddening, humbling, fascinating assignment, and I think I’ve done some really important work on behalf of the one in 14 New Yorkers that rely on us.” [Politico]Eddie Small