Housing Commissioner Takes Office, Sets Priorities

NEW YORK, NY (04/28/2011)(readMedia)-- Darryl C. Towns was officially named Commissioner/CEO of NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) as his selection was approved by the boards of the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) and the Housing Finance Agency (HFA).

In addition to those two agencies, Towns now oversees all the state's recently-integrated housing and community renewal agencies, including the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Housing Trust Fund Corporation and Affordable Housing Corporation.

The board also approved Brian Lawlor to serve as Chief Operating Officer of HCR. Lawlor initiated and managed the integration process which brought all the state's many housing agencies and programs under one leadership structure, allowing for increased efficiency, better decision-making and coordination of State resources.

Towns, who had served two decades in the State Assembly before being appointed housing commissioner by Governor Andrew Cuomo, said he has numerous priorities to tackle in the coming months, including:

1. Continuing the integration process at HCR, in order to identify new efficiencies, enhance the effectiveness of HCR programs, and reduce costs;

2. Utilizing HCR resources to revitalize upstate cities and help to stimulate the upstate economy;

3. Working with the Governor and Legislature to extend the rent regulations that govern more than one million tenants in and around New York City.

Towns said, "It's truly an honor to be appointed by Governor Cuomo to oversee the state's efforts to revitalize our neighborhoods and provide all New Yorkers with housing that is safe and affordable."

Towns said he was looking forward to participating in Governor Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils and believes affordable housing and community renewal efforts are a powerful tool for economic development.

"The programs administered by HCR help to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods and can leverage millions of dollars in public and private investment for communities across the state. I'm very pleased the Governor sees our agency as an important factor in the state's economic development efforts."

During his 18 years in the New York State Assembly, Commissioner Towns worked closely with not-for-profit housing agencies and community development corporations to revitalize neighborhoods and build and preserve affordable housing for his constituents.

He sponsored legislation to improve access to affordable housing for disabled veterans, and was a strong advocate of projects that provided affordable housing units for rentals and homeownership, including a long-awaited mixed-use development that helped revitalize a once desolate section of the Fulton Street commercial strip in Cypress Hills. Commissioner Towns also secured grant funding for the development of the Cypress Hills Community School, Brooklyn's first green school building.

Towns also sponsored legislation to battle predatory lending, subprime lending and the myriad of mortgage and refinancing scams that plagued communities across the State. He also supported mortgage foreclosure prevention services in the most impacted communities across New York State, and authored legislation to institute mandatory settlement conferences.

Commissioner Towns also sponsored legislation to support community and economic development efforts, including a measure to revise and expand the State Charter Deposit Program. The measure encouraged the State to place funds in local community banks in order to support and promote local economic activity. He also sponsored legislation to create the New York State Community Development Financial Institutions Program, to ensure that capital is available for small businesses.


New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) consists of all the State's major housing and community renewal agencies, including, The Affordable Housing Corporation, The Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Housing Finance Agency, State of New York Mortgage Agency, Housing Trust Fund Corporation and others.

Organizing these agencies under a single leadership and management structure has created new efficiencies and allowed for better coordination of the state's resources. Similar and complementary programs are now aligned and working together, reducing costs, red tape and duplicative efforts while increasing the effectiveness of the state's housing and community renewal programs.