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New NYCHA boss has first day on the job as report reveals major heating problems this past winter

Posted at 6:37 PM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 18:37:25-04

NEW YORK — The new head of the New York City Housing Authority had his first day on Monday and documents show there's a lot for him to fix.

As Gregory Russ, who was CEO of Minneapolis Housing, got started, the Legal Aide Society released new numbers that show nearly 90 percent of NYCHA tenants dealt with heat and hot water issues this past winter.

“What I want to say to the new chair is that this should be your laser focus," Judith Goldiner, the attorney in charge of the civil law reform unit at the Legal Aid Society, said. "October heating season is right around the corner. Make sure those boilers are in good shape."

Douglass Houses tenant Charmaine McRae had one request for Russ.

"I do hope the tenants are shown more attention when they request repairs," she said. "I wish him luck. I surely do."

He's going to need it because his hiring has been controversial since it was announced. There was outage over $400,000 salary. Russ comes with a reputation for being a strong supporter of a Rental Assistance Demonstration, a program that turns over management and repairs of public housing to private developers.

Douglass Houses Tenant Association President Carmen Quionones is skeptical of Russ' ability to handle the job ahead.

“Everybody is making money. Where is all this money while people are suffering in their homes? I need to know,” Quionones said.

PIX11 traveled to Minneapolis to talk with Russ.