City to tap Minneapolis public housing boss as new NYCHA head: report

De Blasio admin says no final decision has been made
June 18, 2019 08:16AM

Gregory Russ (Credit: Minneapolis Public Housing Authority)

Gregory Russ (Credit: Minneapolis Public Housing Authority)

After five months, two missed deadlines and several rejections, the New York City Housing Authority finally has a new boss – probably.

Gregory Russ, currently head of Minneapolis’ public housing authority, was selected late last week by Mayor de Blasio to head the troubled – and much larger – NYCHA, sources told The City. But the administration denies this.

“No decision has been made on any candidate,” de Blasio spokesperson Marcy Miranda told The City, whose sources say that the appointment is set to be announced later this week.

Russ is known as an early proponent of Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, an Obama-era program under which private developers took over management and repairs of public housing.

Though de Blasio had previously shown limited support for the program, the mayor announced in November that NYCHA would repair 62,000 of its apartments though RAD over the next decade.

Prior to becoming head of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority in 2017, Russ led the Cambridge Housing Authority in Massachusetts, where he put all 2,700 of that authority’s units into RAD during his tenure.

NYCHA has been without a permanent chairperson since January, when de Blasio and Housing Secretary Ben Carson announced an agreement under which HUD would install a monitor to oversee the agency’s management. De Blasio’s selection for the post was made from a list of candidates vetted by Carson and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

Former NYCHA chairwoman Shola Olatoye stepped down last year as the de Blasio administration faced criticism over its handling of a lead paint scandal.

Several candidates are reported to have turned down the job during the selection process, which contributed to two missed deadlines. Former Laredo, Texas mayor Saul Ramirez Jr. had at one point been considered the front runner for the job. [The City] — Kevin Sun