NYCHA chairman skips arsenic water test fiasco hearing

New York City Housing Authority chief Greg Russ canceled on Friday a City Council hearing his agency blew up over the botched water tests that led to an arsenic scare at a Manhattan apartment complex.

The false results came from a lab not certified by New York State, and NYCHA officials revealed at the hearing that it had been selected by another vendor in violation of contract requirements with the agency.

“Mr. Russ is not in New York,” said interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt, adding that the chairman made the decision not to appear.

Lawmakers touted his non-appearance, with public attorney Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) calling it “disgusting,” and at least three called for Russian’s full dismissal or resignation.

Russ was serving as both NYCHA’s chairman and chief executive officer during that critical time in August and earlier this month, when his agency first received the botched positive results for arsenic in water at the Jacob Riis Houses.

He left his role as CEO after the fiasco that left residents of the sprawling East Side public housing development without drinking water for more than a week.

New York City Housing Authority complex
A lab responsible for testing the water in the condominium withdrew its test results showing levels of arsenic in early September.
James Keivom

Russ made more than $400,000 annually as head of NYCHA and was handpicked for the role in 2019 under an agreement between then-Mayor Bill de Blasio and the agency’s federal monitor Bart Schwartz.

His deal with the city allowed him to return to Minneapolis frequently, where his family stayed and where he was hired as the manager of public housing here in 2019. NYCHA chairman skips arsenic water test fiasco hearing


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