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Mayor Bass Appoints Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez as New Chief Housing and Homelessness Officer

En Español

LOS ANGELES – As Los Angeles continues to urgently confront the homelessness crisis, Mayor Karen Bass today announced the appointment of Lourdes Castro Ramírez, Secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, as her incoming Chief Housing and Homelessness Officer. 

The appointment comes during the unprecedented approach to confronting the homelessness crisis where more than 17,000 people have been brought inside – an effort led by Mercedes Márquez, the Administration's current Chief of Housing and Homelessness Solutions.

The appointment comes as a planned transition due to federal retiree rules. Secretary Castro Ramírez will begin her appointment on November 6, 2023. Chief Márquez will continue her work with the Office of Mayor Karen Bass as a senior advisor to ensure continuity and expand momentum to bring unhoused Angelenos inside with urgency.

Under the leadership of Chief Mercedes Márquez, the Bass Administration has:

  • Helped more than 17,000 unhoused Angelenos come inside. More than 1,600 of those have come inside through the Mayor’s Inside Safe initiative, a new citywide, voluntary approach that leads with housing and services and works to prevent encampments from returning.

  • Leveraged $150 million of Measure ULA funding to fund items like short term emergency rental assistance.

  • Expedited more than 7,000 units of affordable housing with Executive Directive 1.

  • Purchased the Mayfair Hotel, which will provide desperately needed permanent interim housing infrastructure to bring more people inside.

“We must continue our momentum and progress in confronting the emergency of this homelessness crisis, and I am excited to be bringing Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez to continue our transformative work on this issue,” said Mayor Bass. “I want to thank Mercedes Márquez for all of her tireless work and dedication to this work, and I look forward to working with Lourdes as we expand our efforts and continue to move the needle forward in confronting the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.” 

“I’m grateful to Governor Newsom for entrusting me to help realize his vision on housing, homelessness, civil rights and consumer protections. And I’m proud of our statewide team that launched unprecedented efforts to address the housing shortage and solve homelessness through new policy initiatives and funding investments,” said Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez. "Today, I am honored to join in Mayor Bass’ efforts to continue this work, bringing my experience and passion for urgent, collaborative and transformative solutions to Los Angeles, the place that welcomed my family when we immigrated from Mexico, and the place where I found my calling and honed my community planning, housing and leadership skills.”

“Serving as the Chief of Housing and Homelessness Solutions to the Mayor has been an honor, and I have been motivated every day by her drive and commitment to solving the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles,” said Mercedes Márquez, Chief of Housing and Homelessness Solutions. “We have led unprecedented efforts through our Inside Safe initiative, and have truly locked arms with every level of government to bring the Los Angeles homelessness crisis the attention it deserves in order to save lives every single day. I feel lucky to have a successor like Lourdes Castro Ramírez, someone with the experience and knowledge required, and someone I have had a relationship with for nearly 20 years. I could not be more hopeful of the future of Los Angeles and look forward to continued work with Mayor Bass and Lourdes.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Lourdes Castro Ramírez to serve as Secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency on March 2, 2020. She currently leads and oversees 12 entities, including 40 boards and bureaus, collectively responsible for the preservation and expansion of safe, affordable housing, efforts to prevent and end homelessness, protect consumers and safeguard California’s civil rights laws.

Since 2020, the Agency and departments have delivered more than $31 billion in funding to expand rental and homeownership housing opportunities and more than $11 billion in homelessness solutions; partnered with state agencies to develop a Statewide Action Plan for Preventing and Ending Homelessness; and strengthened consumer protections through the licensing, regulation, education and enforcement of over four million businesses, professionals and financial institutions. 

Castro Ramírez currently serves on the California Strategic Growth Council, the California Housing Finance Agency Board, the Governor’s Military Council and co-chairs the California Interagency Council on Homelessness. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, she led the state’s response and recovery efforts to keep people housed and served on the Governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery to rebuild a more equitable, sustainable and resilient economy.

Castro Ramírez has held notable and prominent positions including her appointment by former President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Public and Indian Housing; President and CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority; Director at the L.A. City Housing Authority overseeing rental assistance and resident development programs; and serving as University Health System Foundation President in San Antonio.

Castro Ramírez is a member of the UCLA Luskin Public Affairs Advisory Board. She has served on several community and national boards, including the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, and AmeriCorps, and received the 2019 Community Partner Award from the San Antonio chapter of the American Institute of Architects for chairing the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force. She is the recipient of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality’s 2020 Ray of HOPE award and 2020 San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee.

Castro Ramírez earned her Master of Arts Degree in Urban Planning and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Chicano Studies at UCLA.

Castro Ramírez is married to Jorge Ramírez, and together they are proud parents to Jorge, Natalia, and Nicolas. In 2013, she and her family established an annual Kick Childhood Cancer Soccer Camp to honor Nicolas’ courageous life battling cancer and to raise support for pediatric cancer research.