Providing hope, homes, and life-enriching services since 1979
On August 24, 1979 Many Mansions was incorporated as a California nonprofit corporation.
However, the origins of Many Mansions go back further. As part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration, we came across a sign-in sheet for a meeting dated April 18, 1979. This meeting had more than 25 participants and was held at the offices of Frank Schillo. At that time, Frank was in the insurance business and already active as a community leader. Frank later was elected to the City of Thousand Oaks City Council and then to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.
This meeting brought together many community leaders from Thousand Oaks: City Council members, religious leaders, business people, and social service workers—anyone who cared about the community and affordable housing. At this and subsequent meetings, the group decided that something had to be done about the high cost of housing in the community and the fact that many of its members were having difficulty finding and maintaining decent housing.
The group decided to incorporate. A name, however, was needed. Though accounts vary, at some point the name of ‘Many Mansions’ was suggested as a name for the organization. This phrase ‘Many Mansions’ comes from a passage in the Bible, “In my Father’s house are many mansions [houses].”
Many Mansions initially devoted itself to rental assistance. Over the next seven or eight years, Many Mansions ran the successful Adopt-A-Family program in which donors from the community would donate money to be used as rental assistance for families that needed help. A family may need $50 a month, $100 a month, or more, but this assistance allowed this family to maintain their housing. At one time we had more than 400 households using this assistance.
However, Many Mansions had no control over this housing—its condition, its rental levels, its amenities. So during 1986-87, Many Mansions embarked upon its first development project. Many Mansions, along with the City of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Future Foundation, developed Schillo Gardens. Financed through the federal tax credit program and with assistance from the City of Thousand Oaks, Schillo Gardens housed individuals and families who were low-income and whose rent would be set accordingly. Managed by Many Mansions, Schillo Gardens would be well maintained, safe, and a community.
In 1991, the City of Thousand Oaks assisted Many Mansions with the purchase of Shadow Hills. Again, the City hoped that Many Mansions would turn around this unsafe and run-down property. Within several years, Many Mansions was able to rehabilitate this property and begin the first of its many service programs at the newly built community room.
This close public and private partnership between Many Mansions and the City of Thousand Oaks has continued. With City and now wide-spread community support, Many Mansions developed Stoll House (1998), Villa Garcia (2000), Esseff Village (2001), Richmond Terrace (2003), Hacienda de Feliz (2005), Bella Vista (2005), and most recently Hillcrest Villas (2013).
Our Children and Adult Services programs have distinguished Many Mansions from other affordable housing providers. Many Mansions had led the fight to end homelessness, and our compassionate and supportive services have made us the ideal housing provider of the disabled.
We are growing and expanding. In 2003, we also opened Casa de Paz in Simi Valley, our first housing outside of Thousand Oaks. As we look to the future, we hope to bring ‘many mansions’ to other communities within and beyond Ventura County.
For 35 years, our work has been challenging but rewarding. We have had outstanding staff members, Board members, and volunteers. We have helped many persons—not just with housing and services but in ways we do not always know or understand.