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Mayor Bass Announces Appointment of Deputy Mayor of Homelessness & Community Health

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LOS ANGELES Los Angeles Mayor Bass today announced the appointment of Dr. Etsemaye P. Agonafer, MD, MPH, MS, as the City’s first-ever Deputy Mayor of Homelessness and Community Health. The appointment comes after thousands more Angelenos came inside during Mayor Bass’s first year than the previous year thanks to urgent action locking arms with the City Council.

The creation of the position further demonstrates the Mayor’s continued commitment to confronting the humanitarian crisis of homelessness with urgency and with a comprehensive strategy that pairs housing with life-saving services to deliver sustained results. Dr. Agonafer will also focus on improving the coordination, integration and delivery of services including social, health and behavioral health for people experiencing or at risk of becoming homeless living in interim and permanent housing. She will be responsible for building a team and leading a coordinated effort that results in stronger housing and health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.

Dr. Agonafer began working with the Mayor’s Office in May of 2023, serving as the Community Health Advisor in the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Homelessness Solutions. While in this role, she supported the Mayor’s Inside Safe program with County services and designed the substance use disorder pilot for Inside Safe and the City’s interim housing participants. 

“We must continue to address this homelessness crisis with urgency and comprehensive strategies that work,” said Mayor Karen Bass. “I am excited to have Dr. Etsemaye Agonafer serve in her new role as the City’s Deputy Mayor of Homelessness & Community Health. We know that health, both physical and behavioral, is a vital part of bringing stability to unhoused Angelenos and Dr. Agonafer’s diverse experience and deep understanding of healthcare and homelessness in Southern California will be a crucial step forward in addressing the homelessness crisis and supporting those with health challenges.” 

Dr. Etsemaye P. Agonafer, MD, MPH, MS – brings a wealth of experience in advancing health equity and justice for vulnerable individuals and populations — including people experiencing homelessness, veterans, and people who are formerly incarcerated – as an internal medicine physician, educator and community-engaged researcher. Dr. Agonafer previously served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health System Science at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine in Pasadena, CA. In 2021, she was appointed as a White House Fellow in the Biden-Harris Administration and was placed in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In addition to her policy work, Dr. Agonafer provided clinical care for individuals entering and leaving one of the nation’s largest jails, in the Inmate Reception Center at Los Angeles County Twin Towers Correctional Facility.

Dr. Agonafer was a National Clinician Scholar at UCLA where she earned Masters of Sciences in Health Policy and Management with an emphasis on Implementation Science. Before completing her internal medicine residency and chief residency at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Dr. Agonafer earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Southern California, a Masters of Public Health and M.D. from the UCLA/Charles R. Drew University PRIME-LA dual-degree program.

“Housing and healthcare are essential to preventing and solving homelessness,” said Chief of Housing and Homelessness Solutions Lourdes Castro Ramirez. “This is why we are thrilled to have Dr. Agonafer’s expertise and leadership as we work together to bring an even greater focus to the Mayor’s mission to connect unhoused Angelenos with coordinated supportive care and services that lead to positive health outcomes, stability, and permanent homes.”