Names floated to run combined landlord groups CHIP, RSA

Speculation that Council member, housing commissioner may be candidates

CHIP, RSA May Tap New Leader for Merged NYC Landlord Group
Council member Joe Borelli and HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión (Facebook, HPD)

If two landlord organizations merge as expected next year, a new leader may be tapped to run the would-be supergroup. But who?

It’s still early, but two names have surfaced as potential candidates to helm the Rent Stabilization Association and Community Housing Improvement Program if they combine: Council member Joseph Borelli and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión, according to industry sources.

In a joint statement, the groups denied that either man is under consideration.  

“We continue to explore the potential of a merger and if completed we look forward to making leadership announcements then,” the groups said. 

A representative for Borelli, a Republican, did not return messages seeking comment, while HPD tamped down speculation that Carrión, a Democrat, is going anywhere.

“For nearly two years, Commissioner Carrión has been laser-focused on creating and preserving safe, high-quality, affordable homes for New Yorkers,” an HPD spokesperson said in a statement. “He has not had any conversations with anyone at CHIP or RSA about a hypothetical vacant position at a theoretical organization, and he has no plans to leave the administration.”

But the names floated hint at how the landlord groups may be thinking about their collective future.

Borelli has represented Staten Island on the City Council since 2015, and before that, as part of the state Assembly. Both chambers are dominated by Democrats, leaving Borelli little opportunity to make a legislative impact. But he’s known as a strong personality and appears regularly in the New York media.

If Borelli jumped over to the newly formed landlord group, he would be following a trajectory similar to that of RSA President Joseph Strasburg. 

Strasburg has been with RSA since 1994. Before that, he spent 15 years working in the City Council, most notably as Speaker Peter Vallone’s chief of staff.

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Neither Strasburg nor RSA has spoken publicly about what he would do if the merger happens, but he is in his early 70s and could leave to clear a path for a successor to put his or her stamp on a newly enlarged organization, which has struggled politically since Republicans lost control of the state Senate.

In 2020, Strasburg told The Real Deal that he had no immediate plans to retire but did not think he would still be with RSA in five years.

CHIP’s executive director, Jay Martin, is giving an entirely different vibe on social media, where he posts prolifically. In a tweet Saturday night, the former state Senate staffer noted that last month marked five years for him at the group, and intimated that he wants to continue.

“After having worked for 13 years to get inside the political process, the idea of being outside and giving up the ‘inside access’ I had worked most of my life to achieve was a big deal for me,” Martin wrote. “But I also saw something else. An opportunity to fix housing from the inside out.”

Carrión, however, has a more distinguished résumé in New York politics and hails from the Democratic establishment that still largely controls it, although Republicans and socialists have made gains in recent years.

Carrión has held various government positions, including two elected posts in the Bronx: City Council member and borough president. He also founded an affordable housing development company, Metro Futures, and previously worked for property management company, the Stagg Group.

He also worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration. As HPD commissioner since January 2022, he works with real estate professionals and tenant advocates. A scandal in 2007, in which Carrión was fined $10,000 for accepting free home renovation work from an architect with business before his office, has been largely forgotten.

The merger of the two groups would join RSA’s spending power with CHIP’s more public-facing advocacy. Its leadership post would also mean a huge salary increase for any government official who filled it.

Strasburg pulled in almost $1.1 million last year, when RSA spent $9.1 million and finished the year with nearly $58 million in assets, according to Guidestar. His compensation was similar in 2020 and 2021.

CHIP spent $1.9 million in 2021, the last year for which records are available, and finished the year with assets of $2.2 million. Martin’s compensation was $285,000.

The base salary for a City Council member is $148,500. Carrion’s salary as HPD commissioner in 2022 was $243,171.

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