Dear NYCHA Residents,
I am incredibly honored to be appointed Chair and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority by Mayor Bill de Blasio. As the nation’s largest public housing authority, NYCHA leads the way in demonstrating the importance of investing in and preserving affordable housing. And I appreciate the Authority’s critical role in the success of New York City and its vibrant communities.
In my first 100 days on the job, my focus will be setting in motion real and substantial changes to restore your trust, improve your quality of life, and make NYCHA a better, more accountable landlord. One of my top priorities is to meet with NYCHA residents and staff across the city to hear about how we can best work together to make progress. (Watch a video of Chair Russ visiting Queensbridge Houses here, courtesy of the NYC Mayor's Office.)
I believe in public housing’s power to transform lives and communities through the stability and opportunity it provides. That is why I have spent my entire career in the field of public housing, working to improve residents’ homes and their quality of life. In cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis, my focus was to turn around struggling public housing authorities and deliver to residents much-needed apartment repairs and renovations and access to life-changing services, educational opportunities, and jobs.
I am excited to bring all that I’ve learned over the decades to make a difference for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who call NYCHA home. My mission is simple: fix residents’ homes today and make NYCHA stronger for the coming generations.
It will take a community, all of us working hard to bring together needed changes, new investment, and restoration of quality basic services.
It is true that the challenges are significant. NYCHA’s buildings need $32 billion in major repairs and upgrades, and the federal government has underfunded the Authority by billions of dollars over the past two decades.
Yet, this is a pivotal moment in the Authority’s 85-year history, and we have a path forward. Mayor de Blasio is providing unprecedented support to NYCHA. And with NYCHA 2.0, the Authority’s comprehensive, long-term plan, we have a roadmap for progress. That includes bringing nearly $13 billion of major renovations to 140,000 NYCHA residents by converting 62,000 apartments to Section 8 funding over 10 years; inspecting over 134,000 apartments for lead-based paint; and collaborating with a monitor appointed by the federal government to advance in additional areas, such as mold and pest reduction and enhancements to heat and elevator service.
Staff are cooperating with the monitor’s team as we work together to achieve our shared goals. The wellbeing of our residents and employees is our primary focus, and I’d also like to assure you that improper practices or conduct will not be tolerated at the Authority.
I am ready to fight for you, and I look forward to our partnership as we move NYCHA forward.