Kornegay chosen for top MassHousing job

Chrystal Kornegay

A top Baker administration policymaker will take the reins of MassHousing, a quasi-public agency that has provided more than $22 billion for affordable housing since it was created more than 50 years ago.

Chrystal Kornegay, the undersecretary of housing and community development, will become the first woman and the first person of color to lead MassHousing, according to the agency’s board chair. Kornegay is African American and the MassHousing board voted 5-0 Tuesday afternoon to appoint her executive director.

“Chrystal is a natural leader who possesses a clear sense of purpose, and a deep belief in the cause that all our employees have dedicated themselves to – the cause of affordable housing,” said Michael Dirrane, chairman of the MassHousing board, in a statement.

There were five applicants to head up the agency that sells bonds on Wall Street to finance housing. Kornegay stands to see a pay bump. She makes an annual rate of $150,000 at her current position, according to the comptroller’s office, and Tim Sullivan, who resigned from MassHousing’s top post in November to take a job at UBS, pulled down almost $264,000 per year.

A Democrat, Kornegay joined Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration when he took office in 2015 after spending seven years as president and CEO of Urban Edge, a community development corporation based in Roxbury. A graduate of Hunter College with a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kornegay went to work for Urban Edge in 1999. Before that she was an intern and project manager at The Community Builders. Working with Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, she was the chief housing policy and program administrator and helped manage a $1.1 billion agency with 275 employees.

In announcing Kornegay’s hiring, MassHousing credited her with leading efforts to rehouse homeless families “achieving a 96 percent reduction in the number of families sheltered in hotels and motels,” and coordinating the state’s goal of adding 135,000 housing units by 2025.

Kornegay served as an ex-officio MassHousing Board member before she stepped aside to pursue the director’s post. She disclosed her application for the job in a Dec. 11 Ethics Commission filing.

Kornegay is expected to start in early February, taking over from Tom Lyons, MassHousing’s acting executive director and the agency’s managing director of government affairs and communications. Lyons was not a candidate to take the top post permanently, according to the agency.