Rochester Housing Authority Director Ousted

Residents of the Hudson Ridge Tower at the Seneca Manor complex honored Alex Castro, the Executive Director of the Rochester Housing Authority, last week.

"Alex has been a good leader," said Dot Tucker, president of the residents council. "Whenever Alex is asked to come to one our sites, Alex comes."

"He was always there for us. All the residents in here liked Alex," said Bernice Johnson.

The RHA board fired Executive Director Alex Castro Wednesday morning.

"We wanted to go in a new direction," said board chairman George Moses.

Castro came on board in 2011, after the previous executive director was removed for earning money from a nonprofit linked to the authority. Supporters say Castro, who came from the Housing Council, is credited with leading the agency through tough financial times and improving morale.

Wednesday night, approximately 24 hours after Castro was terminated, City Councilman Adam McFadden was appointed as interim executive director. Moses told News 8 earlier in the day the board would interview several people.

"It's nothing but politics, nothing but politics. You can't tell me anything else, any different," said Maudene Brown.

Brown served on the RHA board for 30 years before she was replaced by Mayor Lovely Warren in August. The mayor replaced board members over the last year.

"What did this man do wrong? How can five new members come in and make in accusations and say they want to change everything. What are you changing?" Brown asked.

"The Rochester Housing Authority operates as a separate entity, so we are not involved and do not have any comment at this time," said a spokeswoman for the mayor.

This scenario - Castro being fired and McFadden replacing him - has been rumored in city political circles for weeks. 

"It was shocking that this actually went down," said Anthony Plonczynski, a Democratic activist. "It just looks very clear this was an inside job. It was a pure political appointment."

McFadden said he does not have to leave City Council if appointed. However, the Hatch Act, would prohibits people who work for agencies receiving federal funds, could prevent him from running for reelection.

McFadden is the Executive Director of Quad A For Kids, a nonprofit that provides academic and extra-curricular support to city children. The organization has a $1 million budget. The Housing Authority has a staff of 180 and a budget of $62 million.

"I think Adam would be an excellent choice for that job," said City Councilwoman Carolee Conklin.

Moses said the public would be involved in strategic planning for the authority, which serves 22,000 low-income people in the Rochester area.

Castro could not be reached for comment.

"I think we should have something to say on it, at least speak on it," said Johnson. "I think it's unfair for them to just do this and we weren't aware of it."

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