Funding Secured for County’s First Permanent Housing Project for Veterans

The Ormond Beach Villas has since been constructed, opened and is now housing veterans. The Oxnard Housing Authority is still accepting applications from veterans to get on their waitlist. Click here to apply.

Many Mansions is ready to build a veterans housing complex in Oxnard. WENDY LEUNG/THE STAR

The Thousand Oaks-based organization received a $5.6 million state grant to build the 40-unit project on Saviers Road in South Oxnard. The project has already received city approval to go forward.

“This funding award was the missing link,” said Alexander Russell, vice president of housing for Many Mansions.

Construction of the $18 million project will begin in January. About half of the units will be geared for homeless and disabled veterans and the rest will be for other low-income veterans and their families.

Although Turning Point Foundation in Ventura offers veterans housing on a transitional basis, there is no permanent housing for veterans in the region.

“We have very little housing altogether,” said Kimberly Evans, executive director of the Ventura County Military Collaborative. “It’s sad a county of this size has few beds available to house veterans.”

There are an estimated 41,000 veterans in the county and according to the latest count, there are 57 homeless veterans. Evans said there are likely more homeless veterans who were not counted.

“When you’re talking about homeless veterans, it runs the gamut. Your homeless veterans might be working and going to school but with rents the way they are in Ventura County, they literally cannot afford a roof over their heads,” Evans said. “These are people who served our country and now cannot afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment.”

According to the Ventura County Civic Alliance’s 2017 State of the Region Report, the average rent for an apartment in the county is about $1,800.

Evans said homeless veterans in the area currently have no choice but to go to Los Angeles.

“Basically we have no options locally to house homeless veterans,” Evans said. “A lot of our younger veterans are living in their cars, couch surfing. To have local options, that means everything.”

Many Mansions is the first in the county to receive funding from the Veterans’ Homeless Housing Prevention Program, which is issued by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

The affordable housing provider hopes it won’t be the last opportunity. Many Mansions is in the preliminary stages of a veterans housing project in Simi Valley and is in the running for another veterans project in Ventura.

Russell said there’s a big push to build affordable units for veterans because the federal government has a goal to end veterans homelessness.

“In an ideal world we can end veterans homeless and help the veterans who have done so much for us,” Russell said. “To not have any permanent housing in Ventura County is a shame.”

Russell said one of the reasons Many Mansions received the competitive state grant is the overwhelming support received by local and regional officials. The city of Oxnard and Ventura County have contributed about $1 million each to the project.

All the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will be below market rate, costing $525 to $1,051 per month for a one-bedroom unit. The waiting list will be handled by the city’s Housing Authority.

For more information about Many Mansions, call 496-4948. For information about the Oxnard Housing Authority, call 385-8041.

Source: VC Star article from July 10, 2017