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Lynwood native has job in Obama administration

LYNWOOD —In 2009, Lourdes Castro Ramirez made one of the most difficult decisions of her life when she accepted the role of president and CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority — a decision that uprooted her and her family from a place she had called home for more than 35 years.

On Sept. 19, Castro Ramirez returned home and was hosted with a meet-and-greet at City Hall.

She returned, not as the president of the San Antonio Housing Authority, but as a member of the Obama administration.

For the last six months she has served as the principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, leading the Office of Public & Indian Housing.

In this capacity, Castro Ramirez manages a budget of more than $26 billion and leads a team of 1,300 employees nationwide who oversee and support 4,000 public housing authorities and 566 Native American communities to provide safe and quality affordable housing and create opportunities for resident self-sufficiency and improved quality of life for 3.2 million households.

A 1989 graduate of Lynwood High School, Castro Ramirez, served on the Lynwood Planning Commission, as well as United Parents of Lynwood and was co-founder of a parent group called Save Our Students before moving to San Antonio with her husband and children six years ago.

Castro Ramirez, who received a master’s in urban planning and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Chicano studies from UCLA, started her career with the Los Angeles Housing Authority in 2005 when she was hired as the director of the housing choice voucher program.

The daughter of Toribio and Guadalupe Castro of Lynwood, Castro Ramirez said she has been able to apply everything she learned while working in Los Angeles and San Antonio in her experiences on a national level.

Lourdes Castro Ramirez, a Lynwood High graduate, is shown being sworn in as principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by HUD Secretary Julian Castro. (Courtesy photo)
Lourdes Castro Ramirez, a Lynwood High graduate, is shown being sworn in as principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by HUD Secretary Julian Castro. (Courtesy photo)

She said her team is working on creating a number of new programs and initiatives that will continue to move the president’s and HUD Secretary Julián Castro’s agendas forward, but they are also looking at new, innovative ways to create more opportunities for families in need of affordable housing.

“We are focused on improving housing opportunities and advancing national initiatives that will benefit families, cities, rural areas and Native American communities,” she said.

In a statement before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, which confirmed her appointment to the federal position, Castro Ramirez mentioned her parents, the work ethic they instilled in her, her education, her community engagement in Lynwood, and promised that if confirmed, she would remain dedicated to strengthening communities while preserving and developing quality affordable housing that meet the needs of poor and working families, elderly and disabled individuals, homeless veterans and other special needs populations.

Castro Ramirez said she is humbled by all of the support she has received from her hometown, and even from new friends she made in San Antonio and now in Washington, D.C.

“I am proud of growing up in Lynwood. Lynwood is my community,” she said. “There are many Lynwood alumni who are doing great work and setting a great example. It is important for us to not only give back, but to continue creating opportunities for others.”