Maria Torres-Springer will be the latest person close to Mayor Bill de Blasio to step down from a position. This time, it’s his leader of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Torres-Springer will leave her post next month and move on to work for the Ford Foundation, according to Crain’s.
Torres-Springer helped the mayor across many agencies during her tenure. She worked for Small Business Services and then moved onto the Economic Development Corporation, which tries to re-energize and reimagine commercial districts and areas. She became the mayor’s housing head a couple of years back and spent her time there helping to make some rezonings possible that stirred up community emotion.
“No one has been more important in our fight to make New York the fairest big city in America than Maria Torres-Springer,” de Blasio said in a statement, adding that “whether advancing rezonings or developing a record number of affordable homes, I have turned to her time and again to tackle the toughest issues facing our city.” She joins other recent notable departure announcements.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Ford Foundation hopes her experience and expertise will help the foundation address the problems of poverty. After all, millions of children go to sleep hungry every night in the richest country in the history of mankind.
The New York City Housing Authority’s public image has been in need of serious repair. The agency that was supposed to help improve public housing conditions covered up the problems instead, according to a lawsuit the federal government announced against NYCHA last summer.
New York must invest at least $2.2 billion into housing projects over the next five years, but U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman also said unidentified individuals could face criminal charges going back as far as at least 2010.
NYCHA managers used lies and deception to cover up the squalid condition of public housing. They also filed false documents, tricked federal inspectors and betrayed the 400,000 tenants who have long endured heartbreaking conditions and the growing sense that nothing will ever change.
Berman said that the authority lied about issues including mold infestation and rat burrows. He said NYCHA underplayed how bad the lead poisoning of children in public housing really was. NYCHA didn’t even count the people affected by lead, which can cause irreversible brain damage and is not considered safe at any level of exposure.
The New York Post detailed other tactics that included shutting off water service to entire buildings in Brooklyn and the Bronx to hide leaking pipes. Workers locked basement rooms with “dangerous or unsanitary conditions,” then posted signs saying, “Danger: Do Not Enter,” to keep inspectors out, the feds said. The suit also said that workers stuffed paper or cork into wall holes and then painted over them instead of just fixing them. One ex-NYCHA manager made workers use foam spray to mask holes. Workers had a “Quick Fix Tips” list that they would use to make last-minute cover-ups to deceive federal inspectors.
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