KCLU NPR: South Coast Veterans Group Announces Plans To Build Village Focused On Helping Homeless Veterans

Veterans Village

KCLU’s Lance Orozco looks at a non-profit veterans group in Ventura County with ambitious plans to build a village focused on helping homeless veterans.

The pandemic has been rough on lots of us. But, for Army veteran Todd Gessel, it’s been especially tough. He lost his job, and housing, so the streets of Ventura County became his home. He ended up living in his truck.

But, thanks to a non-profit veteran group in Ventura County, he got help from a fellow veteran who knows all too well what it’s like to be homeless.

Rafael Stoneman literally patrols places in Ventura County that homeless veterans frequent. He’s become sort of a “fixer” for the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation, connecting those who need help with support.

The foundation has become a vital resource for some of Ventura County’s veterans.

Bob Harris is Executive Director of the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation. He says during the pandemic, they’ve been able to help with housing, and other issues which were literally life or death issues for some of the veterans.

The foundation has launched an ambitious project to build a center in the county which can provide housing and services to help get veterans back on their feet. It wants to create what will be known as a “Veterans Village” on the west side of Ventura, which will have housing for homeless veterans as well as resources to help them get their lives back on track.

The foundation is hoping to get the village up and running in phases, and depending on fundraising fully built out in around 18 months.

Gessel says Stoneman, and the Foundation helped get him off the streets and into housing, something the 58-year-old veteran of the first Gulf War says he couldn’t have done on his own.

The foundation is hoping that adding the unique center can allow it to have many more success stories in the future.

Source: KCLU article from March 5, 2021