Women Who Lead: Maryssa’s Inspiring Journey

Growing up at Mercy Housing

In 1993, Maryssa Cazares Tamayo and her family moved to 111 Jones Street in San Francisco. “It was almost by fluke,” she recently shared. “My mom was walking down the street, and somebody just handed her an application.” Her mom’s English was limited as she and her husband had recently moved to the States from Mexico, but that didn’t stop her. “She somehow filled [the application] out, went to the interview, and got us a three-bedroom apartment.”

She admires her mother’s “push-forward” attitude.


Maryssa remembers asking, “Whose house is this,” repeatedly as she and her family toured their new apartment home for the first time. “I didn’t understand the concept of different bedrooms,” she shared, “because we had one big closet. That’s where we lived.”

Her parents began to work for Mercy Housing and the family soon settled into their Jones Street apartment home, where they lived until Maryssa was a teenager.

“They had the stability of working and living at Mercy Housing that allowed them to buy their own home,” she explained. When she was 16 years old, Maryssa, her brother, and their parents moved into their Bay Area home.

Although no longer living at 111 Jones Street, Maryssa remained connected to Mercy Housing over the years through her mom, who still worked at a senior community. “My family pushed me towards getting a job with Mercy Housing as well,” she shared. “I was raised at a Mercy Housing property, so I built relationships with the staff, and I could see myself in their roles.” She was hired as the desk clerk at a senior community in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. At the same time, she was on-call and covering for staff when they went on vacation.

Maryssa worked her way up and became an assistant property manager at Vera Haile Senior.  It was there she learned about the leasing process, which led to her first property manager position at Garden Hill Apartments in the East Bay.

Maryssa Celebrates a Milestone

Fast forward to 2024. Maryssa recently celebrated her 10th anniversary working at Mercy Housing. “Mercy has seen me through a lot,” she reflected. “I started as a shy desk clerk, and they have always put me in positions that push me to grow.”

Now the property manager at Casala Apartments in the Sunnydale neighborhood, Maryssa is relishing in her role, as she described, “I feel that I have a direct impact on making the residents feeling safe in their home, feeling happy in their home, and being proud of where they live.”

Maryssa adds, “Mercy was a stepping stone for us, and I see a lot of that for residents. This is a time for them to build stability.”

The Casala Apartments community prepares for a night of Trick-or-Treating.

As part of the Sunnydale Redevelopment, Casala Apartments opened its doors to residents in 2019, and Maryssa was there to greet each resident as they moved in. Her relationships with the residents however began well before it was built. “They got to look at the building and the blueprints and gave input of what they wanted to see in the community. By listening to the residents and being attentive to their issues, I can help create a place where they’re happy to come home to. And just give them that peace of mind.”

A Garden Grows

In her free time, Maryssa loves to cultivate her creativity, especially when it comes to gardening. “I do a lot of gardening. I like plants,” she shared. Her love of gardening led to the start of a gardening club at Casala Apartments. The gardening club grew to include residents of 290 Malosi, a neighboring Sunnydale affordable housing community, which gave those who participated the chance to meet and socialize with their neighbors.


Maryssa is close to her family and sees her parents, who still live in the Bay Area, every weekend. You can also find her journaling and doing arts and crafts during her downtime.

Her connection with Mercy Housing runs deep. From a three-year-old toddler growing up at 111 Jones Street to her first job with Mercy Housing to becoming the property manager today at Casala Apartments.

“In my dreams, all I remember is Mercy,” Maryssa said. “I was raised there. And as soon as I stepped through the doors, I felt safe. I want people to have a place to come home, rest their heads, and recharge. I feel like we have a direct impact on what we do every day.”

Mercy Housing celebrates the leadership, courage, wisdom, and contributions of women. This Women’s History Month we honor Maryssa Cazares Tamayo, property manager at Casala Apartments in San Francisco. Started by the Sisters of Mercy in 1981, Mercy Housing is proud to share that women make up nearly 60% of our workforce.