De Blasio’s housing czar Alicia Glen is stepping down

She's presided over affordable housing initiative, Amazon deal, NYCHA

Dec.December 20, 2018 09:00 AM

Alicia Glen and Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images)

Alicia Glen, who has been the point person on virtually all of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial real estate initiatives, is leaving her post early next year.

As deputy mayor for housing, Glen has spearheaded economic development and affordable housing plans — and played a role in bringing Amazon to the city.

Her departure follows other personnel changes. Joseph Esposito, emergency management commissioner, is also leaving. And last November de Blasio’s first deputy mayor Anthony E. Shorris said he was also departing.

Under Glen’s leadership, the city is on pace to reach de Blasio’s goal of building or preserving 300,000 apartments for moderate- and low-income housing. It’s an accomplishment the administration often trumpets. She also led the charge on rezonings in Midtown East and the Garment District.

“From building and protecting the most affordable housing in our history to growing our tech industry to knocking down barriers for women, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen has opened doors for New Yorkers of every background and made our city a fairer place,” de Blasio said on Twitter.

But Glen, a former Goldman Sachs executive, also oversaw NYCHA at a time when the housing conditions have been deteriorating. The authority is facing the possibility of a federal takeover. Glen decided to leave the position on her own and doesn’t have another job lined up, according to the New York Times.

Glen’s blunt demeanor alienated some of de Blasio’s progressive supporters, some of whom called for her ouster last year. Advocates, who believed her approach to housing did not serve the city’s poorest residents, have protested outside her apartment.

“Her legacy is creating affordable housing that is not affordable,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of Align, a group focused on labor and income inequality, “Her legacy is bringing Amazon and turning New York into another version of San Francisco.”

Glen oversaw housing as the city laid out plans to experiment with different housing types. Last year, she said the city hoped to “crack the code” on mid-rise multifamily development with more modular construction. The city also proposed a tax hike on vacant land and a competition to build “tiny homes.” And recently, NYCHA said it plans to sell air rights and open some land to private development in order to raise money for repairs. [NYT] — Meenal Vamburkar

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