What to Know
Lynne Patton said de Blasio has been more focused on his national ambitions than on finding a new NYCHA leader
“The mayor has not been, I think, directing as much attention to this process as he should have," the Trump appointee said
Patton said the latest missed deadline could have been avoided if de Blasio took a more hands-on approach
Lynne Patton, HUD’s Regional Administrator in New York and New Jersey, delivered a blistering appraisal of Mayor de Blasio’s search for a new NYCHA Chairperson, Wednesday. The Trump appointee suggested de Blasio has been more focused on his national ambitions than on finding a suitable leader for his beleaguered public housing authority.
“He’s been traveling out of town, out of the state, out of the country,” Patton said. “The mayor has not been, I think, directing as much attention to this process as he should have.”
NBC News reports that De Blasio is expected to officially announce a run for the Presidency Thursday morning.
Earlier in the week, de Blasio announced a second extension of the self-imposed deadline to find a new NYCHA leader. The mandate to select a new Chair was part of a January agreement with the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who had been investigating NYCHA’s failure to comply with federal health and safety regulations - including alleged fraud associated with lead paint compliance.
In a sit-down interview, Patton said the latest missed deadline could have been avoided if de Blasio took a more hands-on approach to wooing potential candidates. She said there is currently a short-list of three candidates, but two of them had previously taken a pass on the job.
“I think we could have wrapped this up after the first extension,” Patton said. “Quite frankly, the two candidates that we are revisiting were in the mix the first week that we were searching for a NYCHA Chairperson. We’ve now circled back to them in an attempt to try to flush out the reasons why they originally turned the job down.”
Representatives for de Blasio bristled at Patton’s accusation that the mayor has been distracted during the NYCHA leadership search.
“It appears Lynne’s relationship with the truth is similar to that of the man who hired her,” said Freddi Goldstein, de Blasio’s Press Secretary. “The Mayor is deeply involved in the search for a NYCHA CEO, but it makes sense she wouldn’t know considering she hasn’t been part of our discussions with HUD and SDNY.”
According to City Hall, de Blasio has personally interviewed candidates for the NYCHA job and spoken countless times with Patton’s boss, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, as well as US Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
Earlier this year, Patton made headlines when she spent the better part of four weeks living with host families at four different NYCHA buildings. Her stay in public housing drew jeers from some who called it a publicity stunt. But Patton’s host families praised her for highlighting NYCHA’s health and safety problems.
Patton says the breadth of NYCHA’s challenge is one reason the search for a new leader has been so difficult.
“Some, quite frankly, don’t want to take it on at all. You instantly become the most hated person in New York City.”