Kelly's last day in his position with DCHA was last Wednesday; DCHA announced his departure as a chance for Kelly to “explore other opportunities in the affordable housing industry.” To New Yorkers, leaving DC for The City is a promotional no-brainer, while those of us remaining feel no pangs of being dumped, or need to justify why DC is every bit the city New York is. Because it just is. Really, its obvious.
So why is New York pilfering from its smaller but not inferior neighbor? In a New York City press conference held last Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Kelly’s appointment as NYCHA’s new General Manager. "During his tenure in Washington he oversaw a significant modernization of public housing in that city. Under his leadership the housing authority there also received the highest possible ratings for quality of its financial and management operations."
So do New Yorkers tip their hats to DC as something to emulate? Don't count on it. When asked about which part of Kelly’s almost decade of work in DC impressed the New York powers-that-be, New York City Council spokesman Howard Marder told DCMud that the decision had less to do with DC and “more to do with his overall career.” Though, as Marder pointed out with evident contentment, “I was just reading that Marion Berry didn’t want to give him up and thinks DC shouldn’t have let him go.”
Despite that faint praise, Marder added “I think he’s going to fit in very nicely here,” adding that in addition to his service in DC, Kelly served as “President of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, brings an incredible academic record, and has 28 years of experience in the public housing sector.”
Since beginning his position with the Housing Authority in DC in 2000, Kelly, according to DCHA's website, secured "over $786 million in public and private funding for public housing" in the District and helped DC win an additional $105.7 million in the form of HOPE VI Grants.
Asked about whether the DCHA would suffer from Kelly's absence, DCHA spokeswoman, Dena Michaelson said “I doubt it,” adding that there will be “sadness, but no big changes are in the works yet.”
In his new role, Kelly will be responsible for the day-to-day NYCHA operations as well as helping implement strategies to expand New York’s public housing while making it more cost-effective; a tall order from a housing system that serves over 403,000 people (1 in 20 New Yorkers), has a $3.2 billion dollar budget and carries over $130 million in annual deficits.
Back in DC, a national search for a permanent DCHA director marches forward. Adrianne Todman, former deputy executive director for administration and external affairs, will serve as the interim Executive Director until Kelly’s permanent replacement is named. Maybe we should check out how Baltimore's Housing Authority is being run. Not that coming to DC would be a step up or anything.