Bill de Blasio is building his own team to lead New York City’s key housing agencies.
The new mayor recently announced four key appointments: Gary D. Rodney, president of the Housing Development Corp. (HDC); Vicki Been, commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD); Shola Olatoye, chair of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA); and Cecil House, general manager of NYCHA.
As a result, key holdovers from the Bloomberg administration are gone.
Rodney, who recently served as executive vice president for development at Omni New York, takes over HDC from veteran Marc Jahr, who had been an integral figure in the city’s affordable housing efforts for the last six years.
Although it’s common for a new administration to bring in its own leadership team, Jahr’s departure still comes as a surprise and disappointment to many in the industry, who hoped he would remain in the post. Jahr understands the complexities of affordable housing finance and is well connected from his years in the industry.
Before being appointed to head the agency in 2007, Jahr served as New York regional director for Citi Community Capital, where he directed Citibank’s community development real estate lending efforts in the area. He has also worked at the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and HPD.
HDC is city’s housing finance arm. Since 2000, the agency has issued roughly 10 percent of all the multifamily housing revenue bonds in the United States, and since 2003 HDC has raised more than $6.7 billion in financing for affordable housing developments, including providing in excess of $1 billion in subsidy from corporate reserves.
A few well-connected industry leaders said it would have been nice if Jahr remained in the post, but it's the new mayor's choice to bring in his team. One noted that all the appointees have a strong housing background.
The turnover continues at HPD. Been replaces RuthAnne Visnauskas, another holdover from the Bloomberg administration. Visnauskas had been with HPD since 2006, serving as executive director of large-scale planning before being promoted to assistant commissioner for new construction finance. She also served as deputy commissioner before stepping into the commissioner’s post in 2013.
Been has been director of New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Most recently, she has worked extensively assessing the impact of Superstorm Sandy on housing and neighborhoods.
At the housing authority, House will continue to serve as general manager, a post he has held for the past 18 months. Olatoye comes to NYCHA from Enterprise Community Partners, where she was recently vice president and New York market leader. She replaces John Rhea, an investment banker, who was criticized for his lack of affordable housing experience.
Earlier, de Blasio appointed Alicia Glen as deputy mayor for housing and economic development. Glen had been head of Goldman Sach’s Urban Investment Group.
The new administration has set a goal of building and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade and addressing long-standing health and safety repair issues affecting the city's more than 400,000 housing authority residents.