NEW YORK (PIX11) — Adolfo Carrión Jr. said his humble beginnings growing up in public housing inspired him to be in public service and help the Latino community. He’s now the head of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, one of the largest housing agencies in the country.
Carrión’s office is just a few blocks away from the Jacob Riis Houses, a NYCHA development where he grew up. Carrión said the neighborhood shaped who he is as a person and helped him find his purpose.
PIX11 News met Carrión outside City Hall. But he admits he feels most comfortable in the Bronx where he also grew up.
Carrión rose through the ranks of New York City politics as a city council member and Bronx borough president. He ended up at the White House after President Barack Obama tapped him as the first director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs.
Mayor Eric Adams named Carrión commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in January. Carrión said he came in to his new job with a mission in mind, to create more affordable housing in every neighborhood.
Carrión said it’s a tough job, but he has the grit to get it done because of his history. He was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — his Puerto Rican parents moved to NYCHA’s Jacob Riis Houses on the Lower East Side. Carrión said he wants to pay it forward by giving every New Yorker a chance at a fair start.
Carrión is also particularly proud of a program called the Homeowner Help Desk, which has expanded under his watch. He said it’s designed to help low- and moderate-income homeowners, specifically in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Southeast Queens and the Bronx, afford to stay in their homes.
Carrión’s focus is the Latino community, which he says has been overlooked for way too long. “New York is 30% Latino. The fastest-growing sector of our population is Latinos. My hope is the next generation of Latinos grows up to build the city to lead the city,” said Carrión.
Carrion said he is also trying to create more opportunities for minority- and women-owned developers in New York City. He is also hiring a new staff for his agency.
Find housing resources, including the affordable housing lotteries, online at the New York City Housing Resource Portal.