PAST Vicky Ramirez grew up in the O.C. and—despite what reality shows would have you believe—has seen firsthand the demographic shifts in major submarkets across the Los Angeles basin. Yet the city’s housing stock does not accommodate this new demographic.
“Some cities are more committed to affordable housing than others, but not as many as there should be,” says Ramirez, who interned with the Housing Authority for the City of Los Angeles before joining Irvine, Calif.-based affordable housing firm Jamboree Housing Corp. in 2005 as an assistant project manager. By 2007, she was promoted to project manager.
PRESENT Jamboree president Laura Archuleta says Ramirez’s success comes down to a persistence on building collaboration amongst development teams. Case in point: Ramirez’s successful management of a five-unit project in Huntington Beach, Calif., has expanded into a neighborhood revitalization effort involving three additional properties.
Ramirez herself points to Jamboree’s culture as an enabler of career development skills beneficial to all, including a year-long program she just completed at LISC, a California-wide nonprofit housing development training institute dedicated to increasing the capacity for nonprofit housing developers and their staffs to become better project managers.
ON THE JOB Between deciphering changes to the LIHTC program in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and shepherding dozens of current affordable housing projects through the development process for Jamboree—you’d think Ramirez would be bereft of free time. Think again. One evening in late May, she squeezed in time to canvass neighborhoods in support of U.S. Congressional candidate Judy Chu.
Indeed, Ramirez is no stranger to politics. Her work with Jamboree impressed Anaheim City Council member Lorri Galloway so much that Galloway nominated Ramirez to serve as a commissioner on the Anaheim Planning Commission.
FUTURE Ramirez’s ultimate goal is to create the obsolescence of the need for affordable housing. To accomplish that, she is setting her sights on encouraging more mixed-income and mixed-use development. Jamboree is beginning to embrace that strategy as well: The firm is now applying for tax credits on a 134-unit property in Irvine, Calif., that will incorporate special needs housing with family-sized affordable units.