City Councilor Kenzie Bok tapped to run Boston Housing Authority

Kenzie Bok outside of Hale House in Boston's Back Bay in 2019. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Kenzie Bok outside of Hale House in Boston's Back Bay in 2019. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Kenzie Bok, the progressive Boston city councilor and housing policy expert, will be the next administrator of the Boston Housing Authority, the largest public housing agency in New England.

"It's really the BHA that keeps our really low income Bostonians here in the city, with both the vouchers and the public housing portfolio, and to me that's just essential to the promise of the city for all," Bok said in an interview with WBUR on Wednesday.

Bok was previously the senior advisor for policy and planning at the BHA before running for city council in 2019.

"Kenzie brings a deep commitment to our BHA communities along with an expansive vision of how public housing should anchor our neighborhoods and city," Mayor Michelle Wu said.

The BHA serves nearly 9% of the city's residents through its properties and Section 8 rental assistance programs. Advocates describe the agency as chronically underfunded.

"I think what Kenzie brings to the table is she really understands the different federal programs, how these different federal and state programs can be leveraged and combined," said Joe Kriesberg, president and CEO of the nonpartisan think tank MassINC.

Kriesberg pointed to Bok's long advocacy to expand the BHA's housing stock by using subsidies related to a federal regulation called the Faircloth Limit. The city estimates it could expand the BHA's portfolio by 2,500 units under this provision.

Apart from maintaining and expanding the BHA's properties, Bok will be tasked with implementing Mayor Wu's pledge to end the use of fossil fuels in the city's public housing developments by the end of the decade.

"It is a challenge, but I think Kenzie is certainly up for it," said former Councilor Josh Zakim, who held Bok's council seat before starting a housing nonprofit. "Knowing the politics as much as the policy is a really important tool."

Bok will take over at the BHA next month. She will overlap with outgoing administrator Kate Bennett, who will officially step down later this summer.

The city will hold a special election to fill Bok's council seat later this year.


Headshot of Walter Wuthmann

Walter Wuthmann State Politics Reporter
Walter Wuthmann is a state politics reporter for WBUR.



More from WBUR

Listen Live