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Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority appoints interim CEO

RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners has appointed Orlando Artze as the Interim Chief Executive Officer of the agency.

The appointment, effective immediately, comes two days after the resignation of former Executive Director T.K. Somanath.

Artze has worked with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) in a variety of capacities since 2009, including serving an assistant to Somanath and as commissioner from 2009-2012.

In total, he has almost 40 years of experience in affordable housing and community development and working in the private sectors.

“RRHA is also beginning the search to find a permanent CEO,” Bob Adams, the Board chair said. “While that process is underway, the board believes Orlando is the right person to step in and lead the organization as it addresses these and other important issues."

In addition to his work experience, Artze has also served on the boards of the Virginia Housing Alliance, Housing Virginia, and Housing Partnership Network.

"I want to thank the board for their confidence. I am committed to listening and working with the residents, the board, the RRHA staff, the city, and our community partners to create a safe place for all of our residents,” said Artze.

Under the interim role, Artze will report to the Board of Commissioners. He will not be a candidate for the permanent CEO position, according to Adams.

RRHA head T.K. Somanath resigns

The man at the helm of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) for the last three years has resigned.

RRHA Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Adams said Executive Director T.K. Somanath submitted his resignation, which is effective immediately, on Sunday.

Somanath had been scheduled to brief Richmond City Council members Monday about ongoing heating issues at Creighton Court, one of the six massive subsidized housing communities run by the agency.

The board appointed Somanath, the former president of Richmond's Better Housing Coalition, to serve as interim CEO in January of 2015 while the agency conducted a nationwide search for a new leader after embattled CEO Adrienne Goolsby resigned.

“This Board recruited T.K. Somanath out of retirement to help the RRHA though a transition period," Adams said. "We are grateful for his service to the Authority during the past three years and notably his accomplishments in beginning the critical work of replacing RRHA’s aging public housing portfolio."

Somanath recently sat down with the CBS 6 Problem Solver reporter Melissa Hipolit on Jan. 9 to answer questions following a  rally where a crowd called for his removal over ongoing heating issues at Creighton Court.