Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday nominated longtime homeless services
administrator Daniel Tietz to lead the state agency tasked with
overseeing New York’s tapped-out rent relief fund and administering key social service programs amid an historic homelessness crisis.
Tietz, a policy expert, nonprofit head and former top official in New York City’s Department of Social Services under Mayor Bill de Blasio, would become commissioner of the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). He has most recently served as a fixer for two of the city’s problem-plagued service organizations.
In February, he took control of the Bronx Parent Housing Network following the arrest of the group’s CEO on corruption charges and a New York Times investigation that revealed allegations of sexual assault and coercion against residents of the group’s women’s shelters. A year earlier, a state judge appointed Tietz to steer scandal-scarred shelter provider Childrens’ Community Services after its administrators were accused of defrauding the city through a network of phony subcontractors.
Tietz’s nomination as OTDA commissioner was confirmed by Hochul’s office ahead of a formal announcement Wednesday. Tietz did not respond to multiple calls, emails and direct messages, but he describes his leadership perspective in his exhaustive LinkedIn profile.
“With me are high-performing teams and diverse constituencies whom I rally around shared goals,” Tietz wrote.
Several advocates and policy experts who spoke with City Limits ahead of Hochul’s announcement described Tietz as an effective administrator who isn’t afraid to clean house—even if that means making some enemies.
“He doesn’t suffer fools,” said one veteran advocate who has worked with Tietz and asked to remain anonymous. Another called him “abrasive” but “competent and committed to” low-income New Yorkers.
If confirmed as commissioner, Tietz would take over OTDA’s vacant leadership position. Former agency head Michael Hein resigned in October following a creaky rollout of the state’s $2.4 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and the departure of his boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Tietz would oversee ERAP at an especially challenging moment: The state’s eviction protections will expire on Jan. 15, but OTDA has allocated or earmarked nearly all of its rental assistance funds. Hochul and OTDA decided to shut down the application portal last month and now face a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Society demanding that the state resume accepting applications.
Hochul is seeking about $1 billion in additional funds to cover unpaid landlords, and the state could soon redistribute $250 million of the existing fund that has yet to be claimed or sent to landlords.