At 10 years old, Emilio Ramírez and his family immigrated to Marysville, California from Jalisco, Mexico. Ramírez comes from a family of migrant farm workers—now as Oxnard’s Housing Director, he creates living units for farm workers and homeless people.
In 1990, Ramírez attended the University of California in Riverside for his undergraduate degree before receiving a graduate degree in finance and economics from Cal Poly Pomona. In 2005, he completed law school at Whittier Law School.
Ramírez developed a 15-year background in affordable development and homeless services while working in Riverside. Instead of pursuing a career in law, Ramírez was hired for a project in Riverside to build homes for farm workers in Coachella valley.
“When I was little, I wanted to be a lawyer. When I grew up, I wanted to build houses,” Ramírez said to VIDA Newspaper.
In his career and life, Ramírez has sought fulfillment—he said he’s built 20,000 units of housing and homeless shelters.
His work as housing director has focused on providing a home, table and safety for the homeless and farm worker community in Oxnard. Ramírez firmly believes everyone, despite their origin or circumstance, deserves quality housing conditions.
As his current homeless shelter project is underway, Ramírez said there’s been opposition from some residents in the city. He urges those with differing opinions to join together for one cause—meeting the needs of those in Oxnard.
“I think it’s important that everyone gets together and fights the good fight every single day. At the end of the day, we still have people that are in need, and we have to help,” Ramírez said. “We can’t ignore the need; the need is there, and we have to do it.”
One challenge of affordable housing in Oxnard is the rise of the cost of living and home prices. Although home prices are increasing, Ramírez said wages are not. Ramírez addressed affordable housing should also be quality and comfortable housing.
Ramírez stands by his belief that the homeless community are not criminals but people who are suffering. He said they are people who were denied opportunities he was given or made mistakes but nevertheless people who deserve hot water, a home and a future.
“You have to think about it from the perspective that there are people that have kids or have moms who love them. And yes, they make mistakes, like we make mistakes,” Ramírez said.
Aside from his work in Oxnard, where he owns an apartment with his spouse. He also owns a home in Sacramento where his business is located and where most of his developmental work is conducted. Ramírez said he splits his time between Oxnard, Sacramento and Riverside for work.
Ramírez and his family refer to themselves as Chicano not Hispanic. His brother is an engineer in San Francisco while his sister is the dean of inclusivity in the county of Riverside. His youngest sister runs a business in Marysville. The Ramírez siblings are proud of each other and what they’ve accomplished.
As he continues to work with a focus on the homeless and farm worker community, Ramírez described his career as fulfilling and thanked his committed staff for their work.
“It makes me happy. I have a good team here. The staff is committed to it. They’re amazing people, they do really good work,” Ramírez said. “People are in a better condition just because they came to work. And I think that that’s an amazing thing”.