New head of NYCHA to be paid $400K, wants to commute from Minnesota

Gregory Russ will begin his tenure as the new head of the beleaguered New York City Housing Authority on Aug. 12.  With his new job comes a hefty yearly salary of more than $400K.

The previous head of NYCHA was paid $231K.

Russ will also be making a long commute, all the way from Minnesota. 

The staggering salary for a job overseeing the largest public housing system in the country for an individual who will not be living in the city is drawing heavy criticism. It comes as deplorable living conditions continue to impact many of the city's poorest residents. 

Lynne Patton, Housing and Urban Development Regional Manager for New York and New Jersey, said Mayor Bill de Blasio selected Russ and worked out the details regarding his salary.

The mayor has said the decisions were made in conjunction with HUD.

"If you look at the agreement... it says explicitly that this selection is a selection made by the city alone," said Patton. "I think its ironic that a mayor who claims to be so progressive is willing to pay Greg Russ twice as much as his last predecessor who happened to be a black female."

Russ will be making more than the President of the United States, the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City.

Part of his salary - $161K- will come from HUD, and $100K will cover his travel expenses.

“I told him that if he commutes on the weekends back to Minnesota that he is going to get ripped apart,” said Patton. “He said that if you cannot meet these terms than please take my name out of consideration. I just don’t think that with commuting that sends the right message.”

Criticisms aside, Patton supports Russ.

“I will say that Greg Russ is a great person and is well versed in public policy... Changes will be made and we look forward to that."