Tackling Homelessness in Ventura County
The City of Ventura, not unlike nearly every other California coastal community is impacted by the intractable problems of homelessness and vagrancy. The unique combination of a variety of factors including, yet not limited to, beach access, the existence of the (typically) dry Santa Clara and Ventura River bottoms (the Ventura being less than ½ mile from a bustling down town corridor), a temperate year round climate, and the hosting of the Ventura County Jail and the Ventura County Medical Center result in the existence of both chronically and episodically homeless individuals. The resulted in a total number of 1,152 homeless persons. In the City of Ventura, the total number of persons counted was 301, down from a high of 701 individuals counted in 2012.
The Safe and Clean Public Places Initiative (PDF) that was adopted by Ventura City Council in November 2011, and a wide net of collaborations, are the primary contributing factors to that reduction. On April 10, 2017 the City Council voted to approve the Emergency Shelter Zoning Ordinance and Map Amendment, which created an emergency shelter overlay area in the City of Ventura’s Arundell industrial neighborhood. For the first time in Ventura’s history there is now a zoned area in which housing and services for currently and/or formerly homeless individuals is allowed (with a Conditional Use Permit). This is yet a first step in achieving the correct and best practice data driven continuum of housing to move individuals off the streets and toward a self-sufficient permanent housing status. The next steps include increasing the stock of transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and affordable housing with services that assist in addressing personal crises.
Assistance for Homeless individuals and families
Recent efforts to help the homeless in Ventura include, but are not limited to:
- The Homeless 2 Home Project, spearheaded by the Salvation Army, Turning Point Foundation and Project Understanding.
- Through a collaboration with the Salvation Army, the Safe Sleep program is quietly and successfully providing short-term accommodation for people “down on their luck” by letting about 15 carefully screened families and individuals stay in their cars in church parking lots that provide access to bathrooms and targeted help to get them back in jobs and housing.
- The Downtown Ventura Partnership is discreetly raising funds to help individuals or families stranded in Ventura to afford gas money or bus tickets back to their homes through the Family Reconnection Program.
- The City Center is a converted motel for homeless or at-risk families with children. The program is supported by more than 20 local churches.
- River Haven is a non-traditional transitional living program which has 19 domes and can house up to 25 people. The site is a publicly owned parcel and is a collaboration between the City of Ventura and the nonprofit Turning Point Foundation.
- The El Patio Hotel, serves low-income residents; 16 rooms are set-aside for formerly homeless individuals referred by Ventura County Behavioral Health Department. Financing was partly provided by the City of Ventura Redevelopment Agency.
- Encanto Del Mar is a 37-unit, two and three bedroom apartment building designed as affordable housing for the Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura.