Special to the Sun
Mayor Michelle Wu announced that Councilor Kenzie Bok will serve as the next Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), the public agency charged with providing affordable housing to more than 62,000 Boston residents. Bok will begin a transition period next month before current Administrator Kate Bennett steps down later this summer.
“The Boston Housing Authority has been a lifeline for generations of Boston families, and in this moment of housing crisis, the BHA must be a model for housing as health, safety, opportunity, and community,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Kenzie brings a deep commitment to our BHA communities along with an expansive vision of how public housing should anchor our neighborhoods and city—I’m thrilled for her leadership and look forward to building on the strong foundation set under Kate’s stewardship by the entire BHA team. We are all so grateful for Kate’s decades of service to our residents and work to ensure a smooth transition over the coming months.”
“Public housing is a public good, and all of Boston benefits when our public housing communities are strong,” said Kenzie Bok, incoming BHA Administrator. “I’m so excited to return to BHA to put our residents and voucher-holders at the heart of everything our City does, by providing safe high-quality housing for every family and by ensuring the best access to jobs, services, and all the opportunities Boston has to offer. To truly have a City for all, we have to boldly invest at the local, state, and federal levels in the BHA housing that continues to anchor so many of our communities. I was lucky to learn from my predecessors in this role, Kate Bennett and Bill McGonagle, that residents come first at BHA, and I’m looking forward to working with Kate over the coming transition to continue that essential focus.”
Prior to her election to represent District 8 on the City Council in 2019, Bok was the Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning at the BHA. In that role, she spearheaded the BHA’s efforts to vary the subsidy amount of federal housing vouchers by ZIP code. Previously, all voucher recipients received the same subsidy regardless of where they were applying to live in the Greater Boston area. The change has allowed for significantly greater flexibility for voucher recipients in deciding where they want to live and continues to be an impactful program today.
In 2016, Bok helped lead the successful ballot initiative campaign to enact the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in Boston, which has generated tens of millions of dollars for affordable housing in the City. She has also held community leadership roles in various local organizations, including the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) and the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA). After graduating from Harvard College, Bok earned an M.Phil and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Cambridge in England as a Marshall Scholar, and formerly taught courses at Harvard on housing justice.
Bok will replace outgoing Administrator Kate Bennett, who was appointed to the role in 2020 after previously serving as Senior Deputy Administrator and various roles in the BHA since 1998. Bennett has helped oversee the capital improvements at the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments in Jamaica Plain, the Choice Neighborhoods revitalization at the Whittier Street public housing development in Roxbury, the redevelopment of Orient Heights in East Boston, and the Bunker Hill redevelopment in Charlestown. Under Bennett’s leadership, the BHA remains resident-centric and has cemented itself as a nationally recognized leader in innovation, environmental safety, and redevelopment work. Bennett has worked in affordable housing development, policy and planning for more than 25 years, with a particular focus on public housing revitalization. Prior to joining the BHA, she managed affordable housing programs for the City of Chelsea and the City of Newton.
“I am delighted that Councilor Bok will become the next Administrator at the BHA,” said Kate Bennett, current BHA Administrator. “She is the right person to take BHA to the next level. She is passionate about the Authority and its mission, she knows our staff and residents, and she is a brilliant housing advocate.”
As the largest public housing authority in New England, the BHA houses close to nine percent of the City’s residents. The BHA’s mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability; and to create healthy living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency.