Mayor taps Vicki Been as new housing czar

She replaces Alicia Glen, who stepped down in March
By Kathryn Brenzel | April 04, 2019 11:48AM

Vicki Been (Credit: NYU)

Vicki Been (Credit: NYU)

Vicki Been, after spending  just two years away from City Hall, is returning as Deputy Mayor of Housing and Economic Development.

Alicia Glen

Alicia Glen

Been is taking over for Alicia Glen, who stepped down in March, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. Been most recently served as director of New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and a professor at NYU’s School of Law, a position she took after leaving her post as head of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development in 2017.

“As HPD Commissioner, Vicki changed everything about affordable housing in New York City. As Deputy Mayor, she will dig deeper and ratchet up all our efforts to confront the biggest crisis facing our city: affordability,” de Blasio said in a statement. “She’ll kick anti-displacement strategies into high gear and open doors of opportunity to people who are struggling. Vicki will be instrumental in the fight to make New York the fairest big city in America.”

As deputy mayor, Been will help steer the mayor’s $82 billion affordable housing program and oversee more than 20 agencies, offices and affiliated entities, including the embattled New York City Housing Authority. During her tenure at HPD, the city financed 62,500 affordable homes and approved the contentious Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program.

“Since my tenure as HPD Commissioner, the city has made great strides building more affordable housing units and benefited from record low unemployment,” Been said in a statement. “It’s time to be bolder and find new, innovative ways to respond to the city’s affordability crisis.”

Been will start on May 6. She’s re-entering the administration following a series of exits within the city’s housing agencies. Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler stepped down in February, and HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer left in March. The administration has yet to appoint permanent replacements for these two posts.

Been’s predecessor, Glen, a former Goldman Sachs executive, was seen by many as a liaison to the real estate industry. During a press conference on  Thursday, Been didn’t shy from some of the most controversial issues concerning real estate interests, noting that being in the administration’s second term “liberates us a bit to take on tough challenges.” She said she wants to “double down” on tenant protections and seemed to allude to the tax breaks offered to Amazon.
“New Yorkers are no longer going to allow economic development incentive programs that have been allowed for decades to go unquestioned,” she said. “Some of those incentives and the larger tax programs – tax systems of which they are a part predate the globalization of the economy, the flood of money into real estate, they predate the tech and life sciences industries, they predate the horrendous inequality that faces the nation today. Programs designed when the problems were staunching the loss of people from the city and stopping the flight of jobs out of New York have to be re-examined and likely are going to need some reworking.”
She also brought up pending rent regulation reform in Albany, calling it “a once-in-a-generation chance to end failed policies like the current vacancy de-control rules and to stop the irrevocable loss of those precious rent stabilized units.”