Shola Olatoye

Marla Diamond/WCBS 880

Embattled NYCHA Head Is Stepping Down

April 10, 2018 - 12:20 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The leader of the New York City Housing Authority is stepping down amid a scandal over lead paint inspections.

Shola Olatoye has been under a cloud since a city Department of Investigation report in November said she lied about lead paint inspections in apartments housing young children. She also took heat over the breakdown of boilers in several complexes leaving thousands in the cold during the winter months.

“While the challenges facing public housing are significant – I’m incredibly proud of the leadership team we’ve assembled and the strides we’ve made over the last 4 years to speed up repair times, reduce crime, launch a major development program and bring NYCHA into the 21st century,” Olatoye said in a statement Monday. “It’s been an honor to serve the 1 in 14 New Yorkers who call public housing home. I leave this role secure in the knowledge that we created a path for a stronger and safer NYCHA in the years ahead as the de Blasio Administration moves forward with NextGen.”

Olatoye has faced several months of loud criticism from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, various elected officials and residents.

"She has haplessly presided over a humanitarian crisis," said Bronx Councilman Richie Torres at a City Hall hearing in February where residents unleashed their frustration.

"You're the leader of the agency and you have to not just say, 'We need more funding,'" City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, accusing Olatoye of being unsympathetic to residents' distress. "Just say it, 'I apologize as chair of the Housing Authority. I'm sorry.'"

The mayor has continued to defend Olatoye for making positive changes at NYCHA.

“The Housing Authority that the chair inherited four years ago faced bankruptcy, an inability to make basic repairs and an alarming surge in violence. She was a change agent from Day One," de Blasio said in a statement. "Crime is down. Repairs are faster. Finances are stabilized. And NYCHA is putting record investment from the City to work making life better for the 400,000 New Yorkers that call NYCHA home. We’re grateful for her service."

Olatoye will leave her post at the end of the month.

Her interim replacement will be former Port Authority executive director Stan Brezenoff.

"With a proven track record of transforming large agencies, I’m confident that Stanley Brezenoff will help to continue our progress while we search for a new chair," de Blasio said.