San Mateo County Housing Director Ken Cole is being recommended as the new director of the Human Services Agency (HSA), a move he says will let him continue providing safety net services and build upon the department’s strong foundation of innovative success.
“The intersection of human services, housing and health is an exciting place to be. I look forward to working closely with the HSA staff, managers and clients in this effort,” Cole said.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to confirm County Manager Mike Callagy’s recommendation of Cole at its Dec. 10 regular meeting. Beginning Dec. 16, Cole will permanently fill the position currently held by Deputy County Manager Iliana Rodriguez. Rodriguez stepped in as interim director when former HSA director Nicole Pollack accepted an academic position.
HSA’s responsibilities include public assistance programs, children and family, employment services and community services. Specific programs include Veterans Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Services and foster care.
Cole joined the County as director of both the Department of Housing and the Housing Authority in September 2015 after serving a similar role for the County of Santa Cruz. His previous experience also includes serving as director of public policy for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. He is a military veteran and holds a BS in business administration.
“Ken is terrific and I’m thrilled with his selection. He is a great listener and problem solver. He also understands, both intellectually and emotionally, what is needed by those who are in need,” said Supervisor Carole Groom, president of the Board of Supervisors.
During his four-year tenure overseeing housing programs for the County of San Mateo, Cole’s successes included managing an increasing pipeline of affordable housing projects partially supported by voter-approved sales tax Measure K. To date, this housing channel stands at 2,724 units in 37 projects, resulting in more than $1.6 billion in leveraged funding from non-County sources. Cole also strengthened the County’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) by adding landlord incentives and streamlining administration to increase voucher use from 89 percent to 96 percent in one of the most challenging rental markets in the entire country.
Callagy said Cole’s career demonstrates his outstanding leadership and commitment to helping those most in need — qualities that will prove invaluable as the new HSA director.
“He is a collaborator and already has established relationships with many of our community-based organizations that play such a critical role in the delivery of safety net services in the County. Ken has distinguished himself as the type of leader who can get things done and has always held in high esteem those employees who have chosen to serve others as a career,” Callagy said.
Callagy called Cole “just the right leader” to achieve his goals at HSA and Cole, too, looks to the future in his new role.
“I see opportunities for HSA to build on its foundation of recent and often innovative program accomplishments to better serve the diverse needs of our ever-changing community,” Cole said.