The head of New York City’s public housing agency is stepping down from the role after roughly three-and-a-half years.
NYCHA Chairman Gregory Russ will formally resign from the position during a board meeting on Thursday, the agency said. His pending resignation was first reported Wednesday morning by news outlet The City.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio named Russ chair and CEO of the city’s sprawling public housing system in August 2019. Russ took the helm as several complexes made a controversial shift to private management through the so-called Rental Assistance Demonstration-Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, or RAD-PACT, plan.
Under Russ, NYCHA introduced another plan to transfer some buildings over to a publicly owned “Preservation Trust” that would switch the source of federal funding for apartments to Section 8. NYCHA faces an estimated $40 billion in capital needs, with the agency projecting a deeper budget gap for the coming year as a result of unpaid rent.
NYCHA and city leaders, including Mayor Eric Adams, said the Preservation Trust and RAD-PACT plans are intended to raise revenue for the cash-strapped agency after decades of disinvestment, but both have faced criticism from residents concerned about privatization, evictions and future conditions. State lawmakers formally enacted the Preservation Trust plan last year.
Nearly 370,000 New Yorkers are authorized to live in the public housing agency’s 177,000 apartments, though many more call NYCHA home.
Russ’ tenure in the role hasn’t been without controversy.
Throughout his time leading the agency, Russ commuted from his home in Minnesota, where he previously led Minneapolis’ public housing agency. He earned up to $430,000 per year as NYCHA’s CEO and chair.
NYCHA separated the positions in September 2022, with Russ remaining chair while Lisa Bova-Hiatt, the agency’s former counsel, took over as interim CEO, cutting Russ’ salary to $258,000.
During Russ’ tenure, NYCHA was subject to heightened federal oversight in the wake of a lead paint scandal. In November, a federal monitor said the agency had made progress in addressing some infrastructure problems.
But NYCHA continues to struggle with major issues, including an arsenic-contaminated water scare at the Manhattan’s Jacob Riis Houses in September. Russ left his role as CEO just days after the arsenic alert.