A veteran public housing official who leads a Massachusetts housing agency is the recommended successor to pioneering Minneapolis public housing chief Cora McCorvey.
A search committee recommended Gregory P. Russ, 66, executive director of the Cambridge Housing Authority. He has been splitting his time between that job and a Minneapolis home near Lake Harriet purchased a year ago.
He has held executive positions at public housing authorities in Philadelphia and Chicago and also worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He led HUD efforts to help turn around troubled local housing agencies. He also has been a consultant to public housing agencies both on his own and for Abt Associates.
Russ would bring relevant experience to the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA). The Cambridge agency was an early federal Moving to Work designee, which gave it greater flexibility from federal rules. Minneapolis now shares that status.
Cambridge under Russ has also been an aggressive user of a tool that allows housing agencies to transform public housing with private financing. The federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program allows agencies to convert public housing to private ownership using federal rent subsidies.
The Minneapolis agency plans to convert 200 units at Heritage Park with that tool. It has also considered using it at its Glendale housing project, where it encountered vigorous pushback from some tenants.
In a statement, Mayor Betsy Hodges said she looks forward "to working together with him to ensure that Minneapolis' most vulnerable residents continue to have access to dignifying housing options."
According to his agency, Russ is being paid $194,000 annually in Cambridge. That's well above what Minnesota's local agencies are permitted to pay without a state waiver. McCorvey's salary is $165,003.
MPHA spokesman Jeff Horwich said an undisclosed conditional offer has been made to Russ pending approval of his appointment by the agency board and the City Council. He characterized the offer as below the current state cap, which is $163,333.
Russ is due to start about Jan. 1, a few weeks before McCorvey's Feb. 10 retirement. She has been the agency's only leader.
The Cambridge agency Russ has headed since 2004 manages slightly more than half as many public housing units and rental housing vouchers as Minneapolis has. He been a national leader in the industry as a previous president of the trade group for public housing directors and a board member of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities.