Garcia will work to strengthen public housing as Interim Chair. On February 5, 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia as the Interim Chair of the New York City Housing Authority. She will be succeeding Stanley Brezenoff, who will depart from the position later this month. Commissioner Garcia will serve as Chair while the City begins the process of selecting a permanent Chair.
Commissioner Garcia has extensive experience in City government. She started her career as a policy analyst for the Department of Finance. She then worked at the Department of Environment Protection, where she served as the agency’s Chief Operating Officer. During her time at Environmental Protection, Garcia was responsible for the Bureaus of Water Supply, Water and Sewer Operations, and Waste Water where she worked on oversight of the City and State’s drinking water. She was also responsible for the agency’s emergency planning and served as the Incident Commander during Hurricane Sandy.
In 2014, Mayor de Blasio appointed Garcia as Sanitation Commissioner. As Commissioner, Garcia has implemented strategies to reach the City’s Zero Waste goal, created the Organics collection and curbside electronic waste programs, overhauled snow clearing operations by prioritizing plow routes, and developed a plan to overhaul private commercial carting to reduce air pollution, asthma and traffic fatalities in low-income communities. She was also a key player in the development and launch of LeadFreeNYC.
As Interim Chair, Garcia will work closely with NYCHA’s General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo “to reverse decades of disinvestment in public housing and operationalize the City’s agreement with the federal government.” Sanitation First Deputy Commissioner Steven Costas will serve as Acting Commissioner during Garcia’s leave of absence from the agency.
Mayor de Blasio praised Garcia for her work and her experience for the position. “There is no better person to continue our turnaround effort at NYCHA than Kathryn. She is a battle-tested leader who has taken on sprawling challenges from eradicating lead exposure to overhauling the broken commercial carting industry. She is ready to fight every day for the 400,000 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home,” stated Mayor de Blasio.
Stanley Brezenoff also shared Mayor de Blasio’s praise of Garcia stating that he “will leave this interim role knowing that we are putting NYCHA in very capable hands” and he is “confident that Commissioner Garcia is the right person to continue our efforts to improve the quality of lives for residents, and preserve public housing for generations to come.”
“I am going to work every single day to make life better for the 400,000 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home. There’s been real progress—now it’s time to go farther and faster. We have a plan to renovate tens of thousands of apartments and an agreement with the federal government to improve all of our key services to residents. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and put these plans into action,” said Incoming Interim Chair and CEO Kathryn Garcia.
Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia was recently the featured speaker at the 156th CityLaw Breakfast at New York Law School. She spoke on legislative initiatives and both existing and proposed programs to combat waste generated by non-recyclable material. To watch the video of the CityLaw Breakfast, click here.
By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is a CityLaw intern, and a New York Law School student, Class of 2019).