Housing Commissioner Vicki Been will return to academia after securing the most affordable housing of any administration since 1989
Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced Maria Torres-Springer will serve as the next Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development when its current commissioner, Vicki Been, returns to teaching at New York University. The mayor is also appointing James Patchett as President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
The City announced last week that under Been’s leadership, the administration was securing affordable housing at a rate not seen since the Koch Administration in 1989. Her exit comes three years into the Mayor’s signature Housing New York Plan, and after overseeing the financing of a record 62,500 affordable homes – enough for 170,000 New Yorkers. Been restructured City’s programs to reach a wider range of incomes and secure more affordable housing for every public dollar spent. She reformed the regulatory process to reduce the risk and cost of building and preserving affordable housing while ensuring its safety, quality, and financial stability. Been is returning to New York University as the Boxer Family Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Furman Center.
Maria Torres-Springer comes to HPD with deep experience securing affordable housing and working directly with communities on holistic neighborhood planning. As president of NYCEDC, and before that as the Mayor’s SBS commissioner, Torres-Springer has created and advanced transformational projects, including the re-imagining of Spofford, a former juvenile detention center in the Bronx as a hub for the arts and affordable housing. She has been the administration’s leader in developing the Downtown Far Rockaway Neighborhood Plan, which included more than $90 million in neighborhood investments and affordable housing to serve both the lowest-income New Yorkers and those in the middle class. Torres-Springer will build on Been’s legacy of protecting neighborhoods and developing record numbers of securely-financed affordable homes in increasingly challenging economic times.
James Patchett, who has served as Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen’s chief of staff and a key advisor to the mayor on housing and economic development, will take the reins at NYCEDC. At City Hall, Glen’s office oversees the work of 25 agencies, authorities and offices, including the Department of City Planning, the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, the Economic Development Corporation, and the New York City Housing Authority. Patchett is an architect of some of the administration’s most significant accomplishments, including saving 5,000 affordable homes at Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, protecting Harlem’s Riverton Houses, passing Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, and overhauling CitiBike.
Peter Wertheim, currently Senior Advisor to Deputy Mayor Glen, will assume the Chief of Staff role. Wertheim has become one of the administration’s most trusted voices on policy and land use, most recently negotiating the acquisition of Bushwick Inlet Park by the City, fulfilling a decade-long goal of the community.
“With her signature brand of grit and grace, Vicki created and implemented our ambitious affordable housing plan. She is a brilliant public servant and law professor, and her students are lucky to have her back,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “As progressive thinkers and proven deal makers, Maria and James have worked closely with me to advance our most important initiatives. Together, we will continue to build on the successes our first three years, and make this city fairer and more affordable for everyone.”
The moves are effective .
“Having grown up in Section 8 housing, I know first-hand that the work we do is a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of families. Housing is the top expense for New Yorkers, and for far too many rising rents threaten their ability to stay in the city they love. I’ve spent my career helping people secure better jobs with better wages, and developing neighborhood projects that provide affordable homes and economic opportunity. Vicki leaves big shoes to fill, but I’m honored to have a chance to keep up the record-breaking progress she’s achieved,” said Maria Torres-Springer.
"As we continue to build on the achievements of this administration, I am honored to serve as the new head of NYCEDC. With the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Maria, and all of our partners inside and outside of government, we will continue to make our city a 21st Century capital of commerce, culture and innovation," said James Patchett.
“It has been an honor and privilege to lead HPD, and to be part of the Mayor's all-star housing team. We came in with a bold agenda to change the paradigm for how we grow as a city. We promised to produce and preserve more affordable housing than ever achieved, to reach New Yorkers at a broad range of incomes, and to work with communities to ensure neighborhoods are diverse, inclusive, and rich in opportunity. We’ve financed 62,506 affordable residences, including the highest three years of new construction in the City's history. We've changed the way we work to ensure that we achieve more affordable housing for every public dollar spent, and that our housing reaches the New Yorkers who need it most,”HPD Commissioner Vicki Been said. “I am very grateful to Mayor de Blasio for giving me the opportunity to help him make history. As we face the challenges ahead, I look forward to watching as Maria and the amazing HPD team make even further strides to keep New York City a city for all.”
About Maria Torres-Springer
Maria Torres-Springer has served as President and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation since June 2015. She has a demonstrated record of expanding economic opportunity and building relationships between community, government, and private businesses to support economic development projects throughout New York City.
At NYCEDC, her focus was to grow the vital sectors of the city’s economy while creating real opportunity for all New Yorkers. At NYCEDC and her work included creating large affordable housing projects with mixed use retail and community spaces, major investments in long-underserved communities, such as the Lower Concourse Plan, the Downtown Far Rockaway Neighborhood Plan, and investments in Brooklyn’s Flatbush-Caton Market to also include affordable housing. She oversaw the implementation of City-wide Ferry, the launch of LifeSci NYC, and expansion of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises programs at EDC including the Emerging Developer Loan Fund.
Before NYCEDC, Torres-Springer served as Mayor de Blasio’s Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), where she spearheaded the administration’s efforts to raise wages and expand skill-building in workforce placement programs, support women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, streamline the regulatory environment for small businesses, and launch path-breaking initiatives like the Tech Talent Pipeline to grow the tech sector and prepare New Yorkers for 21st century jobs. Her approach to growth and inclusion also resulted in New York City's launch of Women Entrepreneurs NYC (WE NYC), a catalytic effort to expand the economic potential of women entrepreneurs across the five boroughs, with a focus on the specific needs of underserved women and families.
Torres-Springer previously served as the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at NYCEDC. From overseeing the development and implementation of more than 100 initiatives designed to support innovation and entrepreneurship across all industries, to helping lead the Applied Sciences NYC initiative—spurring new applied science and engineering campuses across New York City—she has continually proven her commitment to creating a dynamic city economy that works for all New Yorkers.
Torres-Springer also served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding and as the Chief Operating Officer of Friends of the Highline. She received her bachelor's degree in ethics, politics, and economics from Yale University and a master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.
About James Patchett
James Patchett is the Chief of Staff to the New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, an office that oversee more than 25 agencies, authorities and offices, including the Department of City Planning, the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, the Economic Development Corporation, and the New York City Housing Authority. He has emerged as one of the administration’s most dynamic leaders and secured some of its signature achievements. Patchett negotiated the affordable protections at Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and Harlem’s Riverton Houses. He is one of the administration’s chief negotiators on major land use issues, and was pivotal in securing Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. He has also worked closely with NYCEDC to grow good jobs in manufacturing, tech and Life Sciences.
Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, he worked as a Vice President in the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs. At Goldman, James financed a variety of real estate and economic development projects across the country, including mixed-use developments and affordable housing, using a variety of investment tools, including debt, equity, and tax credits.
He previously served as a Senior Analyst at NERA Economic Consultants, where he worked on energy and environmental matters and assisted public agencies and private companies in evaluating major economic development initiatives, including mixed-use projects, manufacturing facilities, airports, casinos, and new transportation infrastructure. His work includes helping the European Union design a series of environmental regimes, including its revolutionary efforts to limit carbon emissions.
Patchett serves on the board of the Prospect Park Alliance. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Amherst College and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.