On March 26, Ruth Schwartz, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Shelter Partnership, Inc., passed away unexpectedly while vacationing in Santa Barbara. She was 71 years old. Schwartz helped launch Shelter Partnership, Inc. in 1985 to combat Los Angeles County homelessness and has been the organization’s sole Executive Director.
“On behalf of our Board of Directors, Associate Board of Young Professionals, and Shelter Partnership staff, we extend our deepest sympathies to Ruth’s family during this incredibly difficult time,” said Lance Simon, Shelter Partnership, Inc.’s Board of Directors Chairperson. “A visionary leader, tireless advocate, and champion for the most vulnerable residents of Los Angeles, Ruth Schwartz cannot be replaced. I invite and encourage everyone, independently and collectively, to contemplate and honor the limitlessly energetic force, brilliance, and beauty of Ruth. We will miss her tremendous presence in our lives.”
Originally from Chicago, Schwartz’s family relocated to Los Angeles at a young age. She graduated from California State University, Northridge and received an MA in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.
In 1985, Schwartz co-founded Shelter Partnership, Inc. to help develop housing and resources for the growing number of homeless people who have become more visible in our communities. In 1989, Shelter Partnership, Inc. launched the S. Mark Taper Foundation Shelter Resource Bank, a warehouse project that secures large-scale donations of new and unused nonperishable goods that are distributed at no-cost to agencies across Los Angeles County directly serving people living in poverty. In the warehouse project’s history, over a quarter of a billion dollars’ worth of daily necessities like clothes, shoes and socks, and hygiene products have reached an unknown number of people who needed them most. During the pandemic, Schwartz oversaw the distribution of hundreds of thousands of facemasks and truckloads of hand sanitizer to unique emergency housing sites launched across the County at parks and recreation centers and hotel/motel rooms.
Ms. Schwartz served on a number of boards and advisory committees, including the Senate Bipartisan Task Force on the Homeless, the California Housing Loan and Grant Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing Developers and the Los Angeles Emergency Food and Shelter Local Board. She received numerous awards for her work, and in March 2002 was honored by the National Alliance to End Homelessness at a ceremony held at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
During her tenure, Schwartz’s exceptional spirit and strong values drove the organization’s growth to its current status as a vital leader in greater Los Angeles’ response to homelessness. Her passion, dedication, and leadership will have an everlasting impact on Shelter Partnership, Inc.’s mission and employees, our partners in the fight against homelessness, and Los Angeles itself.
With the full confidence of Shelter Partnership, Inc.’s Board of Directors, Associate Board of Young Professionals, and staff, Shelter Partnership, Inc. will carry on Ruth Schwartz’s legacy of dedication, collaboration, and commitment to the equity of all Los Angeles residents.
Ms. Schwartz’s family requests that any gifts or donations in Ruth’s memory be made directly to Shelter Partnership, Inc. A memorial will be held at a later date.