Katie wraps up her discussion with ChangeMaker, Emilio Salas. Emilio is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Development Authority, where he oversees 600 full-time employees and an annual budget of $869 million dollars. The LACDA offers affordable housing development and preservation programs and administers both Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing programs.
About Emilio Salas: Emilio was appointed Executive Director of the LACDA on January 5, 2021, after having served as Acting Executive Director since December 2019. As Executive Director, Mr. Salas oversees approximately 600 full-time employees and an annual budget in excess of $869.5 million. Mr. Salas has worked for the agency since 1988.
During his tenure as Acting Executive Director, Mr. Salas maintained oversight responsibility for the County’s affordable housing, and community and economic development programs. The LACDA’s wide-ranging programs benefit residents and business owners in the unincorporated Los Angeles County areas and various incorporated cities. These far-reaching activities include financing the development of special needs affordable housing, providing homeownership opportunities to first-time homebuyers, administering business façade improvement programs to improve entire commercial centers, and even provide low-interest customizable loans to local area businesses.
Mr. Salas also oversees the County’s public housing and rental subsidy programs, including the Housing Choice Voucher, Continuum of Care, Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing, and other affordable and special needs housing programs. These programs combined create housing opportunities for over nearly 30,000 vulnerable families throughout Los Angeles County. Mr. Salas took the helm as the Acting Executive Director during one of the most challenging years in this agency’s history with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest surrounding the national outcry over social injustice. Under his leadership, the LACDA has launched 12 different COVID-19 emergency relief programs totaling nearly $200 million for a variety of needs for vulnerable residents and struggling small businesses.
These relief efforts provided emergency rental assistance, emergency grants to micro entrepreneurs and small businesses, and even targeted assistance to essential child care facilities and small mom and pop restaurants.
With over 30 years of public service experience, during his career, Mr. Salas has led the LACDA’s operating Divisions to obtain noteworthy achievements to include its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs receiving the designation of High Performer by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for over nine consecutive years. He has also played an integral role in the County’s efforts to eliminate homelessness by removing barriers and creating greater accessibility to Federal housing resources and eliminating jurisdictional boundaries for County residents.
Mr. Salas has served as a Board Member for the California Association of Housing Authorities and currently serves as a member of the National Housing Committee for the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. He has successfully advocated for changes within Federal housing programs that work to improve program access and serve the most vulnerable residents. He has also proudly served his country as a Military Intelligence Specialist in the United States Army, where he received specialized training in human intelligence collection and also served overseas.
A proud alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills, Mr. Salas graduated with honors and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Public Personnel Administration.