This editorial originally appeared in Conejo Valley Lifestyle, on June 23, 2017,
“Many Mansions Builds A Firm Foundation for Community”
In 1979, community members of Thousand Oaks came together in response to the housing crisis plaguing their neighbors, especially those who were becoming homeless or being forced to live in overcrowded, run-down, and crime-ridden housing.
These individuals represented a wide segment of Thousand Oaks, including the faith community, social services agencies, businesses, local government and concerned citizens.
Their initial efforts led to the establishment of Many Mansions in Ventura County, which owns and operates 500 units in 14 affordable housing complexes in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Oxnard.
Additionally, Many Mansions manages 205 units in seven properties on behalf of the Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura in Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Piru and Fillmore.
“Many Mansions is a nonprofit affordable housing and service provider,” says Rick Schroeder, of Oak Park, president of the organization. “As the need for affordable housing grows, we will continue to expand both in Ventura County and in Los Angeles County.”
Many Mansions develops affordable housing by renovating old run-down apartment buildings or by constructing new apartment buildings.
“We then manage the apartments and populate them with low and very-low income families and individuals,” Schroeder explains. “We are also the leading provider of Permanent Supportive Housing in our area, and we take pride in the quality of our housing.”
What distinguishes Many Mansions, though, is that the organization provides onsite “life-enriching” services for its residents. These free, onsite services are aimed at supporting residents in their life circumstances and helping them address the root causes of their poverty.
“Children’s programs, food assistance and case management are just a few of the services we provide for individuals and families at Many Mansions,” Schroeder says.
Many Mansions variety of services generally fall under one of two strategies: Supportive & Adult Services or Children Services.
The Supportive & Adult Services program, which operates in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Oxnard, offers case management, food assistance and life skills workshops.
“Last year, our Supportive & Adult Services program served almost 200 individuals and families,” Schroeder says.
Children Services provide youth residents a range of offerings, including an afterschool program, a seven-week summer camp, Friday enrichment programs and volunteer opportunities. Children Services also helps coordinate two large donation distribution drives during the year: holiday gifts for low-income families in December and backpacks full of grade-appropriate school supplies in August.
“Last year, our Children Services programs and donation drives served over 400 youth,” Schroeder says.
At full capacity, Many Mansions’ currently serves more than 1,200 residents, including 300 children.
A LASTING IMPACT
“Our housing turnover is quite low, demonstrating the true need of affordable housing in our community,” Schroeder says. “While the economy has recovered from the 2008 recession, indicators for the health of our county’s housing and income stability remain bleak.”
In the past 38 years that Many Mansions has helped thousands of families, many are able to break the generational poverty their family experienced, and eventually move into market rate units or purchase homes of their own.
“This is wonderful, but it is not enough,” Schroeder says. “Our waitlist has close to 2,000 households on it and continues to grow.”
While the positive impact of Many Mansions is vast, the nonprofit wouldn’t be possible without support, especially from volunteers, donors and grantors.
“We also rely on the community generosity for in-kind donations—camp supplies, food, furniture—to both support our residents in need and to support our onsite programs,” Schroeder says. “Our biggest current need is for financial support of our programs, which are entirely supported by grants and donations. We can only expand if our donations expand as well.”
LEND A HAND
Before people support Many Mansions, Schroeder suggests they familiarize themselves with the organization.
“Awareness is necessary for us to continue to grow and thrive,” Schroeder says. “Community support for our mission is what enables us to successfully build more housing and to expand services to new areas. So, come get to know us. Take a tour of our properties and let us show you the reality of what we do for the community.”
Above all: “Many Mansions’ vision is to contribute to a compassionate caring community where there is safe, decent, affordable housing for all so that everyone may realize their potential.”
The next fundraiser for Many Mansions, called “Bowls of Hope,” takes place November 5 at California Lutheran University. To find out more, call 805.496.4948 or visit ManyMansions.org.