The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has decided to merge its two main property management divisions, pushing two perennial comrades, John Warren and Jerilyn Perine, to the top of the agency. Many longtime housing developers are rejoicing: The two are technical experts with nearly 20 years of experience in the agency between them. But the reshuffling has spooked some community group heads who have run afoul of the prickly Perine in the past.
Through the merger, Warren has been boosted into the job of Acting Deputy Commissioner of a new Office of Property Management, which will oversee both the city’s stock of repossessed buildings and the buildings that have been slotted for alternative programs like the low-income co-op Tenant Interim Lease program. “That way, building management and [property] disposition will be in the same channel,” explained Carol Abrams, herself recently promoted to Acting Director in HPD’s communications office. “It makes it more efficient.”
Perine, recently of the planning and policy office, has jumped into the number two spot at the agency as First Deputy Commissioner. She replaces Hector Batista, who left in July. In her new job, say HPD staff, she will call the shots on many of the important technical decisions at the department. Joe Rosenberg, formerly in the lobbyist’s intergovernmental job, will take on double duty as Acting Deputy Commissioner of Planning and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Putting Perine in charge won’t going to make everyone happy. “She’s nasty, and antagonistic to community development,” said the head of one major housing organization, who asked not to be identified. But others stood up for Perine, pointing to her competence and her long experience at the agency. “No matter what you think of her, Jerilyn knows housing,” is how one former HPD staffer put it.
According to Abrams, the code enforcement department will be the next to be reorganized. “If you look at it as a blank slate, there are a lot of different ways to organize the agency,” she said.