By Bill Parry
A high stakes game of musical chairs is playing out at City Hall as another key member of the de Blasio administration heads for the exit. Less than two weeks after Carl Weisbrod, the mayor’s chairman of City Planning, announced he was leaving his post, Housing Commissioner Vicki Been elected to return to teaching at New York University.
The city announced last week that under Been’s leadership, the administration was securing affordable housing at a rate not seen since the Koch administration in 1989, extending affordability “for decades to come” at 41,600 homes and spurring construction of 20,800 new affordable apartments. Her exit comes three years into de Blasio’s signature Housing New York Plan after overseeing the financing of a record 62,500 affordable homes, enough for 170,000 New Yorkers.
“With her signature brand of grit and grace, Vicki created and implemented our ambitious affordable housing plan,” de Blasio said. “She is a brilliant public servant and law professor, and her students are lucky to have her back.”
Been said her time as the leader of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development was akin to being part of an all-star housing team.
“We came in with a bold agenda to change the paradigm for how we grow as a city,” Been said. “We promised to produce and preserve more affordable housing than ever achieved, to reach New Yorkers at a broad range of incomes, and to work with communities to ensure neighborhoods are diverse, inclusive, and rich in opportunity. We’ve changed the way we work to ensure that we achieve more affordable housing for every public dollar spent, and that our housing reaches the New Yorkers who need it most.”
Been will depart City Hall Feb. 6. The mayor announced Tuesday that Maria Torres-Springer, the president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, would take over Been’s post at Housing while James Patchett takes over as the leader at NYCEDC.
“As progressive thinkers and proven deal makers, Maria and James have worked closely with me to advance our most important initiatives,” de Blasio said. “Together, we will continue to build on the successes of our first three years, and make this city fairer and more affordable for everyone.”
Torres-Springer oversaw the implementation of the Citywide Ferry Service that will be coming to Rockaway, Astoria and a second landing in Long Island City this summer. She has been in charge of other notable projects in Queens such as the Downtown Far Rockaway Neighborhood Plan and the new industrial center in Ozone Park.
At NYCEDC Torres-Springer’s work included creating large affordable housing projects with mixed use retail and community spaces.
“Having grown up in Section 8 housing, I know firsthand that the work we do is a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of families,” Torres-Springer said. “Housing is the top expense for New Yorkers, and for far too many rising rents threaten their ability to stay in the city they love. I’ve spent my career helping people secure better jobs with better wages, and developing neighborhood projects that provide affordable homes and economic opportunity. Vicki leaves big shoes to fill, but I’m honored to have a chance to keep up the record-breaking progress she’s achieved.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr