NYCHA Chairman Greg Russ to announce departure

High-salaried New York City Housing Authority Chairman Gregory Russ is stepping down from his cushy mid-six-figure position this week.

Russ, who earned between $414,000 and $430,000 annually as the embattled NYCHA’s chairman and CEO, will announce his departure on Thursday, The City first reported.

Formerly the head of the Minneapolis Housing Authority, Russ was tasked with rescuing the nation’s largest public housing authority from a financial hole fueled by decades of mismanagement.

But he took the role while commuting from his Midwest home to his leased high-rise in Tribeca.

He earned well over $400,000 per year until last fall, when the fallout from an arsenic water scare at NYCHA housing developments spurred the federally monitored agency to separate the chairman and CEO jobs.

Greg Russ pictured with Mayor Eric Adams in June 2022.
Paul Martinka for NY Post

According to The City, Russ’ pay subsequently fell to a $258,000 – the same as New York City Mayor Eric Adams and more than Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $250,000.

Russ’ last day is reportedly scheduled for mid-February. Following his departure, the chairman role will transition to a part-time, volunteer post.

“By having NYCHA’s chair be part-time, NYCHA’s governance reflects the public housing industry norm of having a part-time chair,” Alicka Ampry-Samuel, an administrator of the HUD office overseeing New York, told The City.

Greg Russ faced the unenviable task of rescuing the NYCHA from financials straits.
Greg Russ faced the unenviable task of rescuing the NYCHA from financials straits.
William Farrington for NY Post

The specifics of the change are “still under discussion,” she said.

In addition to ameliorating NYCHA’s money troubles, Russ was also faced with cleaning up the messes left by his predecessors after an investigation by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney revealed a history of mismanagement and laxity about unfit conditions.

Former prosecutor Bart Schwartz, who also has been called out for his high pay at taxpayer expense, was appointed monitor of the authority ahead of Russ’s hiring, and a timeline for reforms and repairs was put in place.

But despite NYCHA’s valiant effort to remove lead paint from tens of thousands of units and to upgrade ventilation systems to prevent mold, Russ’s term ultimately lacked major progress.

Last spring, city council members were outraged to hear that Schwartz had spent $32 million, but failed to institute many of the expected changed.

Thanks in part to a shortfall in rent collection during the pandemic, the NYCHA’s unresolved resident repair requests increased from 582,000 to 681,000 last year, The City said.

An elevator repair sweep paid for by the city also fell behind schedule. Over the holidays, thousands of tenants were stranded without heat and hot water.

Amid a spate of false starts, the primary victory of Russ’s tenure was the official approval of a “preservation trust” that will move funding for 25,000 apartments to Section 8 federal housing vouchers.

The shift will allow a trust helmed by the NYCHA to borrow millions in repair funds via bond offerings. The board that will oversee the trust’s activities will be formed later this year. 

New York City Hall and the Department of Housing and Urban Development did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for a comment.