NYCHA Greg Russ out as CEO in wake of arsenic issue at East Village housing complex


The man in charge of NYCHA – the largest public housing authority in the U.S. – will no longer serve as its chief executive officer, Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday.

The announcement that Greg Russ is stepping away from NYCHA’s day-to-day operations came in the wake of findings of unsafe levels of arsenic in tap water at Jacob Riis Houses in the East Village.

Earlier this month, the city warned the roughly 3,900 residents of the 19-building complex against drinking or cooking with the water. Later, the firm that did the testing said it got it wrong, and the mayor’s office declared the water safe to drink.

The City Council is holding a hearing on Sept. 23 to ask NYCHA officials and the Adams’ administration to explain what happened.

The mayor appointed Lisa Bova-Hiatt, the housing authority’s executive vice president of legal affairs and general counsel, as interim CEO while the city looks for a permanent replacement. But Russ will continue to chair NYCHA’s board of directors, Adams said.

“We cannot wait any longer to make transformational changes so NYCHA can provide safe, high-quality homes for New Yorkers,” Adams said in the news release. “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.”

Bova-Hiatt will take over as interim CEO on Monday, Sept. 19.

The mayor said the nationwide search for a permanent CEO has begun.

Russ has held the two jobs since August 2019, when he was appointed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“As I step back into the role of chair of NYCHA’s board of directors, I will remain a resource and partner to Lisa, the NYCHA team, NYCHA residents, and the city,” Russ said in the same news release. “My commitment to NYCHA remains as strong as ever, and as we strengthen the authority and deliver the Public Housing Preservation Trust together, I feel confident in the future of NYCHA.”


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