NEW YORK - (AP) -- New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appointed a veteran of three administrations to be his deputy mayor for health and human services and promised a clean break from the homeless and poverty policies of outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

De Blasio was elected on a central campaign promise to fight the city's widening income inequality -- which he dubbed "A tale of two cities" -- and he linked that fight with Lilliam Barrios-Paoli's appointment.

"She has proved to be a reformer, she has proven to be a change agent," de Blasio said at a Thursday news conference in the grand lobby of Manhattan's Surrogates Court building. "To lift families out of poverty and to sustain vital services, we need real leaders who can put bold ideas into practice."

Barrios-Paoli is the head of the Department of Aging under Bloomberg, but has an extensive resume of work in both the private and public sectors, including posts under former mayors Ed Koch and Rudolph Giuliani.

Barrios-Paoli, who was born in Mexico and also spent five years as a nun, was dismissed from the city's Human Resources Administration in 1997 after battling Giuliani over the investigation into alleged misdeeds at a women's shelter.

She has managed five city agencies and has been credited with several innovative reforms, including the opening of senior centers serving the visually-impaired and LGBT populations. In her nonprofit work, she served as president and CEO of Safe Space NYC, which serves children and families facing such issues as poverty, abuse and medical problems.

She helped establish the September 11th Fund as an executive at the United Way of New York.

"I totally believe we live in a tale of two cities, and it is our job to make it a tale of one city," she said Thursday. "I have spent the bulk of my career trying to work on behalf of the poor. There but the grace of God go all of us."

As he so often did on the campaign trail, de Blasio noted that 46 percent of the city's residents live at our below the poverty level. He has relentlessly criticized the current administration's homeless policies, including a 2011 decision to cut rent subsidies. Currently, there are a record 50,000 people -- 20,000 of them children -- in the city's homeless shelters.

"Some of the approaches have not helped people transcend their challenges," de Blasio said. "Some of these policies have kept people stuck in place."

Barrios-Paoli also criticized the policies of her current boss, saying "you don't stop prevention to save money, because you'll end up paying to correct the problem afterward."

A Bloomberg spokesman declined comment.

Barrios-Paoli is the second deputy mayor de Blasio has appointed. Anthony Shorris, the former executive director of the Port Authority, will act as first deputy mayor and manage the city's day-to-day operations.