Ventura Housing Authority Receives $1.2 Million in State Funding Through Project Homekey

El Portal Apartments, currently owned by the Ventura Housing Authority, will be rehabilitated into an affordable housing complex, thanks to a $1.2 million award in housing funds to the VHA announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $236 million in housing funds Monday, including a $1.2 million award to the City of San Buenaventura Housing Authority. 

The Project Homekey funding will go toward the housing authority’s rehabilitation of the El Portal apartments in Ventura’s Westside community, which will create 28 affordable units. The funding will allow the housing authority to set aside 12 of those units as permanent supportive housing units for formerly homeless individuals.

“We’re excited about this project on a couple of fronts,” said Denise Wise, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura. “This does show a really progressive effort on the part of the state to work toward solving homelessness, and we’re excited that we were able to bring this money into the city of Ventura and can work toward solving homelessness within our community.”

Project Homekey is a statewide effort to convert hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other housing types into permanent housing for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In July, Newsom announced $600 million in funding in the program, which the state calls “the largest expansion of housing for people experiencing homelessness in recent history.”

The first round of funding, announced last week, awarded nearly $76.5 million to seven jurisdictions for 10 projects, totaling 579 units. The additional $236 million announced in the second round of funding this week will go to 12 jurisdictions for 20 projects, totaling 1,810 units. 

Originally built in 1929, the El Portal building has since fallen into disrepair. The building had over 300 code violations when the housing authority purchased it in April 2019, according to Wise. The previous owner had rented out roughly 8 foot by 10 foot rooms with shared showers and bathrooms, as well as studio and one-bedroom units. Wise says the building also had issues with drug-dealing, frequent visits from the police and was the site of a murder. 

“This was an opportunity to both pivot the neighborhood in a positive direction and at the same time provide housing that is hard to come by in the city of Ventura, which is permanent supportive housing. The end product is going to be decent, safe and sanitary housing,” said Wise. 

The housing authority will remodel the building, converting the 24,096 square-foot, 33 unit building into a 24,239 square-foot building with 28 affordable units and one manager unit.  

Plans include reconfiguring the building’s interior and modifying the building’s exterior, including new windows and doors and first-floor patio areas. The project will include 12 units for formerly homeless individuals and 14 units for people with special needs.

The Vagabond Inn in Oxnard is also under consideration for Project Homekey funding. That project would convert the hotel into housing for 70 homeless individuals. 

Additional awards will be announced weekly until the full $600 million has been allocated. 

Source: VC Star article from September 22, 2020