Press Release

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Mayor Bloomberg Appoints First Current Public Housing Resident to New York City Housing Authority Board

Long-time Resident Victor A. Gonzalez Has History of Community Service and Organization; More than 600 Residents Applied for First Resident Board Member Post

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today appointed Victor A. Gonzalez as the first public housing resident to be named a member of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Board. In April 2011, the City announced it would add a new seat on the Board, creating a new Resident Board Member position. More than 600 residents from all five boroughs applied. Gonzalez’s appointment is effective July 20, 2011, when he will join NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea, Vice Chair Emily Youssouf and Board Member Margarita López at his first board meeting. NYCHA board members form the Authority’s governing body and are responsible for voting on contracts, resolutions, policies, motions, rules and regulations and administrative matters.

“NYCHA has provided public housing for New Yorkers for nearly 80 years, but residents have never been represented on its governing Board. That changes today,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The 650,000 New Yorkers in NYCHA or Section 8 housing represent a diverse population that’s bigger than most cities, and, going forward, they will be represented on NYCHA’s Board by Victor Gonzalez, a long-time public housing resident leader and advocate. Chairman Rhea is undertaking a sweeping reform of NYCHA, and ensuring its residents have a voice in its operations is a crucial part of that effort.”

“One of most important improvements NYCHA is working on is bringing more transparency to its processes and decision-making and increasing the level of interaction with residents,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “The appointment of the first Resident Board Member is a significant step towards making that happen. I join board members Chairman John B. Rhea, Emily Youssouf and Margarita López in welcoming Victor, whose commitment to helping enhance the quality of life for NYCHA’s families will contribute to the long term health and prosperity of every NYCHA neighborhood.”

“Mayor Bloomberg’s appointment of Victor Gonzalez is another important step as the Authority becomes a more open, responsive organization and furthers our collaborative efforts, with elected resident leaders and other stakeholders, to implement the long-term strategy that will strengthen public housing for the future — the Plan to Preserve Public Housing,” said Chairman Rhea. “I look forward to Victor bringing his considerable energy and enthusiasm for housing issues to the Board while working with me, Emily Youssouf and Margarita López on the very challenging issues facing the New York City Housing Authority.”

“The work that I have already done as President of Wise Towers’ Residents Association for 8 years has provided me with the experience necessary to be of service for public housing residents on NYCHA’s Board,” said Victor Gonzalez. “I have done extensive work with advocacy groups, organizing workshop meetings for tenants and working with the Resident Advisory Board to increase its size and reach. I consider the under-funding by the federal government and safety and security to be among the most pressing issues facing public housing today.”

Gonzalez’ appointment follows passage by a State legislature bill, originating with Assembly Member Vito Lopez, in 2010 allowing for a resident to serve on NYCHA’s Board. The appointment search was led by Special Advisor to the Mayor Andrea Shapiro Davis.

“It is my true pleasure to congratulate Victor Gonzalez on his appointment to the Board of the New York City Housing Authority as he brings an outstanding record of service, experience and compassion for the community,” said Assembly Member Vito Lopez, who is also Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee. “I wholeheartedly believe that the addition of a NYCHA resident will bring needed unique insight to the Board and will be a great benefit to NYCHA residents throughout the City. I am proud to have drafted the legislation to help bring this change to the NYCHA Board, and I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for his selection of Victor Gonzalez.”

Victor Antonio Gonzalez has lived in NYCHA’s public housing for 50 years, currently residing in the Rabbi Stephen Wise Towers on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where he has been president of the Residents Association since 2003. Gonzalez has served as an alternative member of NYCHA’s Resident Advisory Board and several other boards, including the Goddard Riverside Community Center Board; Community Board 7 in Manhattan; the Neighborhood Advisory Board for the City’s Department of Youth and Community Development; and he is a member of the NYC Residents’ Alliance.

Gonzalez, who received his Bachelor’s degree from Mercy College, also served for five years in the U.S. Air Force, honorably discharged after reaching the rank of Sergeant of Security Police. Following his military service, Gonzalez spent 33 years working for the United Parcel Service, retiring as an international Team Leader in Customer Service in 2005. 

“I look forward to working with Victor Gonzalez and the entire NYCHA Board in greatly enhancing the voice of all residents in the policy and decisions of the New York City Housing Authority,” said Reginald H. Bowman, President of the Citywide Council of Presidents. “Mr. Gonzalez’ appointment will give additional strength to the importance of residents’ positions in NYCHA matters.”

To be eligible, the Resident Board Member had to be at least 18-years old and living in NYCHA’s public housing in good standing. As Resident Board Member, Gonzalez will serve part-time.

NYCHA’s Board serves more than 650,000 New Yorkers who live in public housing and Section 8 housing.  - 30 -