Week in Review : de Blasio appoints real estate executive to Rent Guidelines Board


Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) on Thursday appointed a real estate executive to one of two posts reserved for landlords on the New York City Rent Guidelines Board.

Scott Walsh, a vice president for development at Forest City Ratner, was appointed to the Rent Guidelines Board.  He joins another owner representative on the board, Sarah Williams Willard, a project manager with The Hudson Companies Incorporated, who Mayor de Blasio appointed last year.

Mayor de Blasio has close ties to Forest City Ratner.  Indeed, Mayor de Blasio spent years avoiding any criticism of the developer's failure to deliver on its affordable housing goals at the controversial Atlantic Yards project.

Mayor de Blasio announced two other appointments to the board on Thursday, that of Helen Schaub, a political operative with the union 1199 SEIU, and Sabeel Rahman, a Brooklyn Law School assistant professor, who will serve as public representatives.

Other high-ranking de Blasio administration officials, who have hailed from the real estate industry or who have close ties to some of the biggest real estate developers in New York City, include Vicki Been, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation of Development, and Gary Rodney, the president of the New York City Housing Development Corporation.  A real estate industry lobbyist, Jonathan Greenspun, also serves on the New York City Commission on Human Rights, where Mr. Greenspun will exert influence over how the city responds to cases of human rights violations, including cases of housing discrimination.  Alicia Glen, a former Goldman Sachs executive, who had negotiated on behalf of the bank in respect of large real estate transactions, now serves at the deputy mayor in charge of housing and economic development.

Mayor de Blasio's full press release follows : 

De Blasio Administration Appoints Three Members to Rent Guidelines Board

March 12, 2015

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today made three appointments to the Rent Guidelines Board. The Mayor appointed Helen Schaub and K. Sabeel Rahman as public member representatives, and Scott Walsh as an owner representative.

The Rent Guidelines Board determines annual rent adjustments for approximately one million apartments across the city subject to the Rent Stabilization Law.

Helen Schaub, one of the public member representatives appointed today, has spent more than ten years as a community organizer with a significant focus on housing. She is currently the New York State Director of Policy and Legislation at 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. In this position, she oversees all of the New York State policy and legislative work for the nation’s largest local union, representing 300,000 registered nurses, social workers, certified nursing assistants, home health aides and other health care workers in hospitals, nursing homes and home care agencies in New York State. Before her years at SEIU, she worked as an independent consultant, helping grassroots organizations with organizational development and fundraising. Schaub also serves on the Board of Trustees for the 1199SEIU National Benefit and Pension Funds, the Advisory Board for the East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership, and the Board of Directors for Project Vote.

K. Sabeel Rahman, the second public member representative appointed today, is an Assistant Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. Rahman has a distinguished academic career spanning much of the past decade, serving as the Reginald Lewis Fellow at Harvard Law School and a fellow at the Center for American Political Studies and the Center for Ethics. Rahman has developed and consulted on economic and financial regulatory policy for a wide range of government and non-government organizations, including the Gettysburg Project, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Governance Lab at NYU, the President’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; the Global Economic Governance Program in Oxford; McKinsey and Company; BRAC (a development NGO in Bangladesh); and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, he advised the Office of the NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development on economic development strategy and issues including regulating the sharing economy, homelessness and place-based development.

Scott Walsh, the owner representative appointed today, is the Vice President of Development at Forest City Ratner Companies. A trained and former practicing architect with extensive neighborhood knowledge, he has consulted for a wide array of stakeholders, including for the Urban Land Institute. Previously, Walsh spent more than a decade at TF Cornerstone, most recently as a director. In this role, he was involved in all new development projects from acquisition to stabilization, and has developed and maintained pricing models for portfolio of institutional grade rental and condo apartment houses. Before becoming director, Walsh worked as an Associate within Residential Acquisitions at TF Cornerstone, and as Residential Property Manager prior to that. Walsh serves on the board of the Long Island City Partnership.