Mark Carmona, a nonprofit consultant and former president and CEO of Haven for Hope, will serve as San Antonio’s first chief housing officer, City Manager Erik Walsh announced Tuesday.

Carmona will oversee the implementation of the city’s plans to address affordable housing and homelessness Walsh, said in a news release.

“Throughout the pandemic, San Antonio has been nationally recognized for its housing assistance programs,” Walsh stated. “Mark’s experience and understanding of the issues our community faces make him a great asset to the city.”

Carmona’s hiring comes more than three years after the San Antonio City Council approved a housing plan that called for such an executive.

Previously, Carmona was a consultant to the H.E. Butt Foundation, and led a cohort of churches to develop a coordinated response to mental health needs in San Antonio.

Before serving as Haven for Hope’s top executive from 2013 to 2016, he was deputy CEO of the Center for Health Care Services, which partners with the city’s largest homeless shelter to provide on-site medical services. Carmona has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a bachelor of arts in philosophy from St. Joseph Seminary College in Louisiana, according to the release. 

Carmona’s first day as chief housing officer was Sept. 20.

Walsh announced several other administrative changes to “better align with the Strategic Housing Implementation Plan, enhance the historic and cultural contributions of significant projects in San Antonio and elevate and streamline neighborhood engagement.”

Veronica Garcia, assistant director of the Center City Development Office, will take oversight of the city’s fee waiver program — and its staff — with her to the deputy director role in the Neighborhood and Housing Services Department.

“Veronica has overseen some of downtown’s most transformational projects and has also worked on other prominent issues including retooling development incentives with a focus on affordable housing,” Walsh said.

Veronica Soto will continue to serve as director of the housing department, but its neighborhood engagement staff will be moved to Government and Public Affairs to “add capacity to the city’s public participation efforts and streamline communication with neighborhoods.”

Walsh also formed a Transformation Project Division within the Office of Historic Preservation, under the leadership of director Shannon Miller, that will oversee major projects such as the Alamo Plaza redevelopment, San Pedro Creek and Riverwalk improvements, La Villita, Deco District revitalizations, and Hemisfair. 

Other appointments

Renee Frieda is no longer interim director of Human Resources. After more than 15 years with the city, she will be director.

Shannon Simes, assistant director of Animal Care Services since 2017, will be director of that department.

John Stevens, assistant to the director of Center City and Development, will be interim assistant director.

Andrew Gutierrez, a division manager, will be assistant director of the Solid Waste Management Department. 

These changes will take effect on Oct. 1.

The city attorney and staff are creating the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office as outlined in the 2022 budget. That office will include a civil rights coordinator.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org