Construction Begins on Ventura Affordable Housing Project for Veterans
A $69 million affordable housing project for veterans is one step closer to reality in Ventura.
Ventura Springs, a project comprised of 122 units for veterans on 9.68 acres, kicked off with a groundbreaking on Wednesday. The development, located on 10795 Cosmos Drive, with a cross street of Telephone Road, will have 120 units for low-income veterans and their families with two manager’s units.
Steve Peck, president and CEO of U.S. Vets, a co-developer of the project that provides services and other assistance to veterans, has spoken to thousands of veterans about their hopes, dreams and needs and based their services on the results.
“We have been wanting to come to Ventura for at least 15 years,” said Peck, a Marine Corps veteran who spent a year in Vietnam.
Ventura Mayor Sofia Rubalcava, Councilmember Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios, Councilwoman Lorrie Brown and Ventura County Supervisor Matt LaVere were among nine speakers and dozens of dignitaries who marked the start of construction.
A Community of Friends, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit affordable housing developer, is the lead developer on the project.
Ventura Springs will offer residents supportive services, including mental health counseling, case management, career development and life skills training, according to a release.
The project will be constructed in a campus-like setting and have a computer lab, outdoor gathering spaces, a community garden, recreational areas and a fitness center, according to a news release.
Veterans in Ventura County
More than 50,000 veterans are estimated to live in Ventura County, LaVere said.
“We have a 25% increase in homelessness over the past few years,” he said. “Luckily, we’re not seeing that with the veterans but the fact is there are still veterans on our streets.”
Residents along with city and county officials don’t want to see homeless veterans on the street. Projects like Ventura Springs are important to help reach that goal, LaVere said.
The project is the first supportive housing development for veterans in Ventura, said Cindy Monticue, a spokeswoman for U.S. Vets.
Ventura County’s homeless veteran population decreased during the pandemic. In 2020, there were 94 homeless veterans. In 2022, the number declined to 71.
But the point-in-time numbers, which are counted on one day a year, don’t reflect veterans who are considered chronically homeless, officials noted. In 2020, there were 27 veterans considered chronically homeless and the number rose to 44 in 2022.
Funding for the project comes from private and public sources including, Bank of America, the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the city of Ventura.
In December, the Ventura City Council unanimously voted to give the project $74,100 from the city’s Successor Housing Agency Fund to help get construction moving. In May 2021, the council approved another $545,000.
All told, the city will give $3.2 million using funds and deferred fees, said Dora Leong Gallo, president and CEO of A Community of Friends. She said the project should be completed by the end of 2023 with a grand opening in early 2024.
Monticue said the project increased from a total of $60.5 million in December 2021 to $69 million because of escalated construction costs last year and this year.
Six months before the project has been completed a waitlist will be created for people who are interested, Gallo said. Signs, flyers and the website for A Community of Friends will have more details before completion, she said.
Source: VC Star article from June 16, 2022