2009-05-15 / Top Stories

Mayor Appoints New Housing Authority Chairperson

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today named John B. Rhea to serve as Chairman of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the nation's largest public housing authority. Rhea will replace Tino Hernandez, who returned to the nonprofit sector last year, and Interim Chair Ricardo Elías Morales. Chairman Rhea has more than two decades of investment banking and private sector experience. The Mayor made the announcement in the Blue Room of City Hall, where he was joined by Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott. Chairman Rhea is expected to begin work on June 1.

"John will bring new dynamic leadership and innovative thinking to managing NYCHA at a particularly challenging time for public housing," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The New York City Housing Authority, much like every other public housing authority across the nation, has faced extraordinary challenges in recent years, especially as federal and state support has waned. John's experience makes him the perfect person to lead our efforts to create long-term financial stability at the Authority, and to ring in a new era of transparency and agency responsiveness to improving resident and community quality of life. And with more than $400 million in Federal stimulus funds coming to us from Washington, NYCHA now more than ever needs sound management and accountability to ensure that its resources are put to the best possible use and preserving the future of public housing for generations."

"I also want to thank Interim Chairman Ricardo Elías Morales for his commitment to NYCHA. He has worked very hard in the last few months to make sure that the agency remained a viable and safe housing alternative for New York City residents, and I applaud his nearly 15 years of service to New York City as a dedicated public servant," continued the Mayor.

"John is a highly-accomplished leader with a financial and economics acumen that will provide an immediate benefit to NYCHA," said Deputy Mayor Walcott. "His ability to manage relationships across the board is also critical to the agency's continued growth and success. I look forward to collaborating with Chairman Rhea as we continue to work on the plan to preserve New York City's stock of public housing."

"I am honored to be taking over an agency with such an important mission, particularly one which affects so many families and children, and I thank the Mayor for his confidence in my management and leadership abilities," said Chairman Rhea. "This City has a proud history of public housing, and we remain firm in our commitment to preserve its public housing stock. I hope to build on that legacy by advocating for the necessary resources to allow the talented men and women that work at NYCHA to continue doing the outstanding job they are doing. I look forward to working with residents and other tenant representatives to ensure their voices and solutions to problems are being heard and considered."

NYCHA, like other public housing authorities from coast to coast, has faced difficult financial challenges in recent years stemming from the need for steady, predictable funding streams to finance the agency's capital and operations budgets and allow for long-term planning. Securing and investing such funding has been Chairman Rhea's specialty in the private-sector for two decades. And with his private sector financial expertise, Rhea is highly qualified to bring innovative and new finance strategies to bear to secure NYCHA's future.

Mayor Bloomberg has asked Chairman Rhea to work to improve transparency and agency responsiveness at NYCHA with the goal of increasing public confidence in the agency and increasing its ability to meet residents' needs and concerns.

A graduate of Wesleyan University who also holds a Masters of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School, Chairman Rhea began his career in the Fixed Income Division of PaineWebber Inc. He most recently served as Managing Director and Co-Head of Global Consumer/ Retail Group at Barclays Capital (formerly Lehman Brothers) managing strategy and budget for one of the largest industry sector teams in investment banking. He was also responsible for delivery of the firm's advisory and strategic finance platform to the consumer products and retailing industries and private equity clients. Previously, he was Managing Director and Co-Head of Consumer Group, North America at JPMorgan Chase where he was responsible for corporate finance and M&A transactions across the consumer products sector and completed more than $50 billion worth of transactions.

Chairman Rhea will oversee an agency that provides affordable housing to more than 402,000 low- and moderate income City residents in 340 housing developments and 178,000 apartments across the five boroughs. NYCHA administers the nation's largest Section 8 program, which assists more than 95,000 families in renting apartments in private homes, and works in partnership with City agencies and nonprofit agencies to provide additional services to residents.

Last month, Mayor Bloomberg, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and members of the New York Congressional Delegation announced that $423 million of federal stimulus funding will be used to supplement and accelerate 70 shovel-ready projects within NYCHA's 5-year capital plan which will benefit 408,000 residents. Over the next two years, the stimulus funds will be used for a total of 70 public housing capital projects, including elevator repairs, boiler replacements, other maintenance, repair, and energy-efficiency projects in NYCHA housing developments throughout the five boroughs.

Chairman Rhea serves as the Board Chair for the Children's Museum of Manhattan, and is a member of the Boards of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and the New York Business Development Corporation. He is also a founding and current member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Urban Professionals a member of the National Finance Committee on Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and also a member of the Executive Leadership Council. He lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The replacement search was led by Nathan Leventhal, Chairman of the Mayor's Committee on Appointments, and Andrea Shapiro Davis, Special Advisor to the Mayor.

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