NY Post reports that embattled NYCHA chair Shola Olatoye — who faced strong criticism for her handling of lead paint inspections and poor living conditions — is stepping down from her post, City Hall announced Monday.
Olatoye’s resignation will be effective at the end of April 2018.
“While the challenges facing public housing are significant — I’m incredibly proud of the leadership team we’ve assembled and the strides we’ve made over the last 4 years,” said Olatoye.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had been a defender of Olatoye, sidestepped the NYCHA upheaval and tried to spin her tenure as a success.
“The Housing Authority that the Chair inherited four years ago faced bankruptcy, an inability to make basic repairs and an alarming surge in violence. She was a change agent from Day One,” de Blasio said in a statement.
City Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) said Olatoye’s tenure was anything but a success and her resignation was an absolute necessity. He ripped City Hall for trying to portray Olatoye’s legacy in any other light.
“What planet are these people living on? It seems the administration would rather quarantine itself from reality than acknowledge its failures and learn from them,” said Torres, the former City Council public housing chairman who now heads the Oversight and Investigations Committee.
“I think the resignation of Shola was less a choice than the consequence of collapsed credibility.”
A leading community organizing group also blasted Olatoye on Monday — but said de Blasio is also to blame for the “rot at NYCHA.”
“Chairwoman Olatoye might be gone, but the systemic rot at NYCHA won’t end with her,” said the Rev. David K. Brawley, leader of Metro Industrial Areas Foundation.
“She may have failed, but she’s not the failure. Mayor de Blasio has talked big about making NYCHA fixes, but over the last four years the mayor has continued to treat hundreds of thousands of black and Latino New Yorkers like second-class citizens.”
Public Advocate Tish James played it down the middle — thanking Olatoye for her work, but agreeing she had to go.
“Chair Olatoye has shown a strong commitment to public service and we thank her for serving our city,” according to a statement by James.
“While her intentions were never in question, we are long overdue for a fresh start at NYCHA. It is time to move forward and open a new chapter at NYCHA, one that continuously puts the needs of tenants first.”
Former Port Authority executive director Stan Brezenoff, a veteran of several city and state agencies, will be named interim NYCHA chief.
NYCHA has been plagued with problems in recent months, most notably a lead paint scandal that’s rocked the agency.
A Department of Investigation probe revealed that Olatoye falsely certified, to federal regulators, inspections for lead paint hazards in about 55,000 units.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has blasted the city for its management of deteriorating NYCHA conditions.
The state sent in investigators to look at 225 public housing apartments in March and found that 212, more than 80 percent, had “at least one severe condition” that “could pose a health hazard” to those living there.
The health hazards included peeling paint, mold, damaged plaster, rodents, insects, inoperable appliances and malfunctioning smoke detectors, according to the state report.
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