NYCHA Director Resigns After Arsenic Crisis at East Village Housing Complex

Eric Adams went to Riis to distribute bottled water to residents who were advised not to use tap water.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Greg Russ, Director of the New York City Housing Authority, will resign as Executive Director of NYCHA, however, he will continue as Chairman of the Authority Board.

The news that Russ would step down from heading the authority’s day-to-day operations came days after the East Village housing complex’s water tested positive for arsenic, a finding officials said was prompted by the environmental testing company that handled the investigation. tests there.

“A lot of it has to do with his handling of the Riis Houses issue,” a source familiar with the situation said.

Asked if Russ was being “kicked out” by Mayor Eric Adams’ administration because of his unhappiness over the situation, the source admitted: “I understand that, yes.”

Russ’ change in status, which was reported firsthand by the Daily News and Politico, was followed by Adams’ announcement that he named NYCHA General Counsel Lisa Bova-Hiatt interim executive director of the authority.

According to the Mayor’s press release, Bova-Hiatt will hold that position while his administration, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York execute a national search for a “permanent” CEO. Bova-Hiatt will start his new position next Monday.

“The separation of these roles establishes a new and more effective leadership structure, aligning NYCHA with the operating structure of public housing authorities across the country,” Adams’ office stated.

“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,” added Adams.

According to a council member, Russ became the subject of the mayor’s displeasure after The City reported on September 2 that the water at Riis Houses tested positive for arsenic.

Likewise, Adams himself approached Riis to distribute bottled water to residents who were advised not to use tap water.

Within a week, the Adams administration announced that the water was safe to drink at Riis and that Environmental Monitoring and Technologies, a company contracted to test the water, “introduced arsenic into the samples, leading to false results.”

Also read: