Lourdes Castro Ramírez is the new chief housing and homelessness officer in Los Angeles according to an announcement from Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Oct. 2, 2023. (Courtesy of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency)
LOS ANGELES—Lourdes Castro Ramírez, secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, will take over the position as chief housing and homelessness officer, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass announced on Oct. 2.
Ms. Castro Ramírez will begin her appointment on Nov. 6, replacing Mercedes Márquez, who currently holds the position. According to Ms. Bass’ office, the decision to appoint Ms. Castro Ramírez is part of a planned transition due to federal retiree rules.
“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,” Ms. Bass said in a statement.
The mayor thanked Ms. Márquez for her work and dedication to address the city’s homelessness crisis.
Ms. Márquez will continue her work with Ms. Bass as a senior advisor to ensure “continuity and expand momentum to bring unhoused Angelenos inside with urgency.”
Under Ms. Márquez’s leadership, Ms. Bass’s administration said it has helped more than 17,000 unhoused Angelenos come inside, of which 1,600 found shelter through the mayor’s Inside Safe initiative.
According to the mayor’s office, Ms. Márquez has leveraged $150 million of Measure ULA funding to fund items such as short-term emergency rental assistance, expedited more than 7,000 units of affordable housing through the mayor’s executive directive No. 1—which streamlines affordable housing projects—and assisted in the purchase of the Mayfair Hotel for interim housing.
“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 like the attention it deserves in order to save lives every single day,” Ms. Márquez said in a statement.
She added, “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.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Ms. Castro Ramírez to serve as the secretary of the state agency in March 2020, where she currently leads and oversees 12 entities, including 40 boards and bureaus. She’s also responsible for preservation and expansion of safe, affordable housing, efforts to prevent and end homelessness, protect consumers and safeguard California’s civil rights laws.
“I’m grateful to Gov. Newsom for entrusting me to help realize his vision on housing, homelessness, civil rights and consumer protections,” Ms. Castro Ramírez said in a statement. “Today, I’m honored to join Mayor Bass’ efforts to continue this work, bringing by experience and passion for urgent, collaborative and transformative solutions to Los Angeles, that place that welcomed my family when we immigrated from Mexico, and the place where I found my calling and honed by community planning, housing and leadership skills.”
Since 2020, the agency and departments delivered more than $31 billion in funding to expand rental and homeownership housing opportunities, and more than $11 billion in homelessness solutions.
Ms. Castro Ramírez formerly led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Public and Indian Housing. She was previously the president and CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority, and a director at Los Angeles City’s housing authority overseeing rental assistance and resident development programs.
She earned her master of arts degree in urban planning and a bachelor of arts degree in political science and Chicano studies at University of California–Los Angeles.