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NYCHA Chief Ousted After Arsenic Scare In Public Housing

New York City Mayor Eric Adams

The head of the New York City Housing Authority is being removed and the search for a new permanent CEO is underway, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday.

Gregory Russ, appointed in 2019 by Adams' predecessor, Bill de Blasio, will keep the title of chairman while current NYCHA General Counsel Lisa Bova-Hiatt has been named interim CEO, the mayor's office announced. A nationwide search for a permanent CEO is being launched with the help of officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. 

“We cannot wait any longer to make transformational changes so NYCHA can provide safe, high-quality homes for New Yorkers,” Adams said in a statement. “I am determined to work with my partners in government to identify the right leaders and the right structure for NYCHA to deliver on our promises to public housing residents. I want to thank Lisa Bova-Hiatt for her dedicated service to our city and for stepping up at this critical time to put NYCHA on the right path.”

NYCHA and Adams came under fire earlier this month when residents of the Jacob Riis Houses in Manhattan were told that there was arsenic in their drinking water, only to be informed a week later that the tests were faulty and the water is safe, The City reported

The housing authority owns and operates nearly 180,000 apartments and houses roughly 1 in 16 New Yorkers, according to its website. It was placed by HUD and federal prosecutors under a federal monitor in 2017 after years of delayed maintenance and mismanagement led to subpar living conditions.

Russ was the highest-paid city employee at the time of his appointment in 2019.

“For too long, NYCHA has been underserved and the residents have been forgotten," New York City Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz said in a statement. "That will not happen under this administration, and we will work closely with the interim CEO and eventual permanent CEO to ensure that we finally deliver the services and quality of life that NYCHA residents deserve.”