Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura, CEO Denise Wise, announces her retirement


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Ricardo Torres
Policy and Community Affairs Manager                   


Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura, CEO Denise Wise, announces her retirement

Ventura, CA — After eleven years as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura, Denise M. Wise has announced to the Board of Commissioners that she is retiring in the Fall of 2022. 

Denise joined the HACSB as CEO in October of 2011 following a 25-year career in both the public and private sectors as a banker and real estate developer. She also held previous housing authority leadership roles including executive director posts at the Hawaii Public Housing Authority and the Gunnison County Colorado Housing Authority.

During her tenure, the HACSB invested over $275,000,000 in the City of San Buenaventura building new housing and renovating existing housing to ensure it remains affordable. Denise led innovative initiatives that allowed the organization to creatively acquire or develop new affordable units with complex financial structures.  Most notable is the acquisition of a property located at 1256 – 1266 N. Ventura Avenue, known as El Portal. The property was dilapidated, had over 300 code violations, and was a chronic user of police and fire department resources. After 18 months, the property was fully renovated at a total cost of over $16,000,000. El Portal now has 29 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly unhoused households, unhoused veterans, and those with special needs. The property has transformed the neighborhood and created an opportunity for residents to regain their life balance. Under her leadership, the HACSB became one of the first housing authorities in the county to participate in the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which allowed the agency to renovate hundreds of existing public housing units. Under Denise’s dynamic leadership, the agency developed its first farm-worker housing development and established its Annual Scholarship program. 34 scholarships have been awarded since its inception in 2015.

Denise’s biggest accomplishment remains her commitment and passion for the population the HACSB serves.  Her refrain “We do not just house people…” was consistently heard in staff meetings, and her vision to be services-oriented, and put the residents first, will remain a permanent legacy in the organization. Celia Zavala, President of the City-Wide Resident Advisory Board said; “When Denise was interviewed for the position, her intelligence was obvious and something about her passion trusted me to have faith in her vision and leadership. She always supported the Resident Advisory Councils, and always put the residents first, and because of her leadership, we were able to have new units here at Westview. We are saddened that she is leaving, and we will miss her dearly.”

John Polanskey, Chair of the Board of Commissioners, said, “under Denise’s leadership, the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura’s talented and dedicated staff have focused on meeting the varied needs of our diverse residents while also increasing the opportunities for affordable housing in the City of Ventura through development and redevelopment.  That leadership and staff commitment was never more evident and vital than during the past 2+ years.  The health, safety, and well-being of our residents and staff were always Denise’s priority.  While the Board, and me personally, will miss Denise and her fervor for serving the most vulnerable persons in our community, we wish her all the best in her retirement”.

Ms. Wise’s leadership will truly be missed by the staff and the community. Denise led the agency to reach unprecedented goals, and her innovative leadership transformed the organization to produce efforts that were recognized nationally. “Nothing is ever accomplished single-handedly. I have had the honor to work with the most dedicated and amazing staff. Our accomplishments are the result of our commitment to our mission and community. The decision was not easy; however, the agency is in good hands with the Board of Commissioners and staff. The future is bright”, said Denise.

The HACSB and its Board of Commissioners are beginning the search process for soliciting an executive firm to begin a nationwide search for a successor. Denise has kindly accepted to remain with the agency until a successor is appointed and to facilitate a transition.


The HACSB is the largest residential landlord in the City of Ventura, with 219 public housing units, more than 1,480 Housing Choice Vouchers, and 821 nonprofit affordable rental units. The agency is actively working to increase the supply of affordable housing and improve the quality of life and help its residents achieve self-sufficiency and or age in place.