Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel will join President Joe Biden’s administration after the commander in chief tapped the Brooklyn legislator to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s New York and New Jersey regional office, the Daily News reports.
The post had previously been held by the likes of Mayor Bill de Blasio, and most recently, Trump-appointee Lynne Patton.
Ampry-Samuel, a Democrat representing District 41, which includes parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, and Brownsville, will assume the region’s top federal housing position — and will oversee the city with by far the most public housing in the US.
Nearly 400,000 people live in NYCHA’s 170,000 apartments, in 302 complexes, and tens of thousands more live in private housing subsidized by Section 8 vouchers. Ampry-Samuel would also be responsible for public housing in the rest of New York State along with New Jersey.
Ampry-Samuel was first elected in 2017 to replace three-term pol Darlene Mealy. She lost the Democratic primary for reelection in June to Mealy, one of a number of former councilmembers who successfully ran for their old seat this year.
Biden nominated the outgoing legislator to the new job on the recommendation of Sen. Chuck Schumer, per the Daily News.
The councilmember has much experience with public housing, as she grew up in NYCHA complex in Brownsville, and was a senior advisor at the housing authority prior to being elected to office. She is also the chair of the Council’s public housing committee, a perch from which she has drawn attention to the conditions faced by NYCHA residents and called for government funding and action.
Federal funding for NYCHA has been on the decline in recent decades; and as a result, the past few years have seen a cascading series of scandals and problems in the housing authority illuminating its dire need for funds. Officials estimate the authority is in need of $40 billion to address outstanding capital needs.
NYCHA has been under a consent decree with the federal government, who have installed a monitor, since 2019, in the wake of a scandal where city officials falsely claimed in communication with the feds to be inspecting apartments for lead paint. The current estimate is that 9,000 apartments are inhabited by children under six, who can face devastating nervous system damage and other issues from exposure.
Beyond that, authority properties persistently suffer from heat outages, residents live in dilapidated apartments infested with mold and pests, elevators constantly break down, and repairs are hard to come by, among a myriad of other problems.
Patton, who was nominated by Trump to the regional director position in 2017 despite having no experience in housing policy, was found to have twice violated the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits agency appointees from engaging in partisan politics, and has been banned from public service for four years, according to the Daily News.
Spokespersons for Ampry-Samuel and the HUD regional office did not respond to requests for comment. The regional administrator position does not require confirmation by the US Senate, but it is unclear if Ampry-Samuel will immediately resign from the Council or when she will assume her post at HUD. Mealy, meanwhile, is facing Green Party nominee Scott Hutchins in the general but, as the Democratic nominee, is overwhelmingly the favorite to win the District 41 seat in November and assume office in January.
Ampry-Samuel’s colleagues heaped praise on the pol after news broke of her nomination.