Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has announced the appointment of a new homelessness czar to oversee efforts to shelter the city’s unhoused population.
Lourdes Castro Ramírez will assume the post on Nov. 6, replacing Mercedes Márquez. This is part of “a planned transition due to federal retiree rules,” according to Bass’ office. Márquez will continue serving as a senior advisor in the mayor’s administration.
Castro Ramírez heads California’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, which oversees the state’s housing departments. She also serves on the California Strategic Growth Council, the California Housing Finance Agency Board and the Governor’s Military Council, while co-chairing the California Interagency Council on Homelessness. She previously served as President of the University Health System (2017-2020), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2015-2017), and Director of Section 8 housing in Los Angeles (2009 to 2019) among other roles.
Castro Ramírez is an immigrant from Mexico. She attended UCLA for undergraduate and graduate school, obtaining a B.A. in Political Science and Chicano/a Studies followed by an M.A. in Urban Planning and an M.A. in City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning.
“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,” Castro Ramírez said.
Read more about Castro Ramírez’s career and accomplishments here.