NEW YORK (PIX11) — NYCHA Chair Greg Russ will no longer serve as the agency’s CEO, with the two roles being split going forward, Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday, a shift made following a scare of arsenic in the water at Manhattan’s Jacob Riis Houses complex.
Russ, who had held the dual position since he was appointed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio in August 2019, will continue to chair NYCHA’s board of directors, but will no longer serve as CEO, according to a news release from the Adams administration. Lisa Bova-Hiatt, currently NYCHA’s Executive Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, will serve as CEO on an interim basis starting Sept. 19 while a permanent replacement is sought, City Hall said.
“We cannot wait any longer to make transformational changes so NYCHA can provide safe, high-quality homes for New Yorkers,” said Adams in a statement. “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. I want to thank Lisa Bova-Hiatt for her dedicated service to our city and for stepping up at this critical time to put NYCHA on the right path.”
Adams did not explicitly tie the change to the water testing scandal, even as it continues to actively unfold.
Water samples collected last month from the sprawling Jacob Riis Houses in Manhattan’s East Village tested positive for traces of arsenic, though the lab responsible retracted the results last week.
Residents have announced a $10 million suit against the city in the wake of the false alarm, which saw them urged to use only bottled water for drinking and cooking while further tests were conducted.
In an appearance on PIX11 before the results were retracted, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that NYCHA was “going to have to rebuild a lot of trust in Jacob Riis.”
In a statement issued through City Hall, Russ praised his interim successor as CEO and said that he was optimistic about NYCHA’s future.
“Knowing the residents and NYCHA staff will be led by Lisa in the interim is an important move to continue strengthening NYCHA. As I step back into the role of chair of NYCHA’s Board of Directors, I will remain a resource and partner to Lisa, the NYCHA team, NYCHA residents, and the city,” said Russ. “My commitment to NYCHA remains as strong as ever, and as we strengthen the authority and deliver the Public Housing Preservation Trust together, I feel confident in the future of NYCHA.”