Shola Olatoye, a Nigerian whose parents are migrants in the United States, has been appointed the head of New York City Housing Authority, NYCHA, which oversees the city’s public housing of over 400,000 residents. Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, who announced the appointment, said Olatoye would be part of the new team he has set up to help fulfil his goal of significantly expanding New York city’s affordable housing stock.
Olatoye, who last worked as vice president at Enterprise Community Partners, which advocates affordable housing in the country, succeeds John Rhea, an investment banker who faced criticisms for his allegedly lack of experience. Despite crippling budget shortfalls, the new team will be expected to help actualise the mayor’s plan to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade with a view to addressing longstanding health and safety issues in the city. Blasio has long promised to create and preserve affordable housing for low- and middle-income residents to bridge the economic inequality gap in the city. But analysts say the new team may face daunting challenges, including scarcity of city-owned land on which to build and deep cuts in federal housing subsidies, among others.