New York City’s Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz is set to leave her post in the Adams administration by early July, she told Gothamist, leaving open a critical role tasked with overseeing the city’s response to its growing housing and homelessness crises.

Mayor Eric Adams appointed Katz — a former city housing official, supportive housing administrator and policy expert — to the role at the beginning of his first-term in January 2022.

The newly created position was a partial response to calls for a deputy mayor to coordinate the various agencies that handle housing, including the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, NYCHA and the Department of Social Services.

In an exclusive interview, Katz said she did not yet know where she’ll go next, but plans to take the summer off.

“These jobs are a real sprint,” she said. “I kind of made a list for myself of what I wanted to do when I started this, and I've been working my way down that list, so I think now's the right time.”

City Hall officials said they do not yet know who will fill the post, or if they will retain the position.

Her decision comes as Adams seeks to roll back the city’s unique and foundational “right-to-shelter” rules as tens of thousands of newly arrived migrants are straining the city’s safety net programs, according to City Hall, and as New York City contends with a deepening affordable housing shortage coming out of the pandemic.

During her tenure at City Hall, Katz served as the public face of efforts to address the housing crisis and helped craft Adams’ first housing plan. That plan, released last June, faced criticism for not including a target number for new units, unlike blueprints issued by previous mayors. Months later, Adams abruptly announced a “moonshot” goal of 500,000 new homes over the next decade — an effort complicated by inaction from state lawmakers in the latest budget announced late last month.

Katz said the plan instead centers on housing as the solution for ending homelessness, with various proposed policy and rule changes meant to ease new affordable housing development and move people more quickly from shelters and into homes. She added that the plan was informed by people who have experienced homelessness and that it incorporated public housing into citywide strategies for the first time.

“We’d always sort of treated the causes of homelessness and the solutions to homelessness as being two totally separate things,” she said. “My advice is to remember that homelessness is a housing problem.”

“I think for a generation or more, we've looked for every other reason why homelessness exists or why it's so persistent in our city and in a way that almost seems to blame the people who have become homeless,” Katz added on Tuesday.

Since Adams took office, the city’s homeless shelter population has skyrocketed, driven partly by a rise in the number of newly arriving migrants. At the same time, a state eviction moratorium ended, rents reached record highs and the city’s depleted workforce struggled to quickly move people out of shelters while promptly delivering other crucial services, such as food stamps and cash assistance.

Katz called the rise of migrants in need of shelter beds a “curveball” that affected every aspect of the city’s work on housing and homelessness.

“That is a huge shift in the homelessness landscape that I don't think the homelessness universe has ever had to grapple with before,” she said.

Though tasked with coordinating the city’s housing efforts, the newly created hierarchy led to some confusion over authority and potential power struggles.

Katz downplayed those issues and said the administration sought to clarify roles and avoid a power vacuum when it comes to housing.

“These jobs are frustrating. Sometimes if you're not frustrated, you're not doing it right,” she said. “But I think we worked really hard during the transition to figure out a structure that would let somebody focus specifically on housing, have enough breadth to cover everything that needed to be covered, but also not have a portfolio so big that you couldn't take a deep dive into what are really complex issues.”

Adams praised Katz in a statement Wednesday, highlighting her efforts to improve public housing and involve people who have experienced homelessness in policy-making decisions.

“Jessica worked every day to ensure that New Yorkers were at the center of our housing policies, whether an individual experiencing homelessness, a family living in NYCHA, or a lifelong New Yorker struggling to stay in the neighborhood they love,” he said. “Our administration and the entire city are grateful for her service."

Katz previously worked as an administrator at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development under Mayors Mike Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio, and led the supportive housing provider Lantern in between.

Before becoming the city’s chief housing officer, Katz served as executive director of the nonprofit Citizens Housing and Planning Council, where she analyzed inefficiencies she attempted to address in city government, such as long wait times for people moving into new city-financed apartments.

During her roughly 16-month tenure, Katz said the city made strides in approving new income-restricted housing this year compared to serious delays last year. She also said the city has cut down on the number of vacant supportive housing units and introduced a modest program intended to streamline moves from the streets to permanent housing. Hundreds of apartments remain empty in buildings intended for people with mental illness and other special needs.

Katz played a key role in stumping for the NYCHA Preservation Trust, a plan to transfer the source of funding for 25,000 public housing units to Section 8 while still maintaining city control. State lawmakers enacted the trust last year and Katz was recently named to the board to steer decision-making.

She counted the trust and the incorporation of NYCHA into broader housing goals as among her top accomplishments.

“There'd never been a housing plan for the city of New York that incorporated NYCHA or a city administration who has embraced NYCHA in the same way,” she said. “They've always kind of been left to their own devices and they've been used as a political punching bag and not as a very core part of our affordable housing infrastructure.”

Katz said she will no longer serve on the trust's board after she leaves her position, and added that the next chief housing officer or another city official will likely step in.

And while Katz said she does not yet know where she will go next, she laughed when asked if she would be joining a lobbying firm founded by Adams’ former chief of staff Frank Carone, which has emerged as a landing spot for former administration officials.

“I'm going to take the summer off and have some vacation time and then figure out where I'm going next,” she said.

This story has been updated with additional comment. It has also been corrected to reflect the housing officer's position in the city's hierarchy.