T.O.’s Many Mansions gets $5M grant to build veterans housing

This editorial originally appeared in Thousand Oaks Acorn, on July 6, 2017,
“T.O.’s Many Mansions gets $5M grant to build veterans housing”

Apartments will be in Oxnard

A Thousand Oaks-based nonprofit provider of affordable housing has received over $5 million from the state to build 40 apartments for homeless veterans.

Many Mansions is scheduled to complete the project in Oxnard by January.

Along with $5.6 million from the state Department of Housing and Community Development, the nonprofit received $800,000 from the city of Oxnard’s Housing Authority and another $210,000 from the county for the project.

In all, California Department of Housing and Community Development officials awarded $62 million to build and renovate 12 housing projects for veterans across the state through the department’s Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention program, officials announced June 12.

“The men and women who were brave enough to serve our country should not have to fight another battle once they return home,” Ben Metcalf, Housing and Community Development director, said in a news release. “The VHHP program helps veterans and their families regain a sense of place, a sense of pride, and peace.”

Designed by Simi Valleybased architect Mark Di Cecco, Many Mansions’ housing development will include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, on-site support services and a community room. For rent, tenants will use vouchers provided by the Oxnard Housing Authority.

There’s already a waiting list to apply for the housing, said Bambi Hosaka, spokesperson for Many Mansions.

“Once built, the projects will increase affordable housing units by 836 throughout the state,” Housing and Community Development spokesperson Evan Gerberding said in a news release. “Of those units, 470 will be veteran-specific, with 243 of the units dedicated to chronically homeless veterans.”

Created through Proposition 41, the VHHP program has distributed $238 million to date in grants to fund housing developments. The funding will result in 1,970 new housing units for veterans and their families, according to the California Housing Finance Agency.

Many Mansion’s project isn’t the first in Ventura County to provide housing to veterans.

In August 2015, Ventura-based nonprofit Turning Point Foundation opened a $1.2 million fullservice, 10-unit housing program for homeless veterans in Ventura.

According to the county’s homeless count survey taken earlier this year, 80 veterans were living in homeless shelters or on the streets, up from 77 in 2016.

On any given night, more than 9,600 veterans are at risk of being homeless in California, according to Gerberding. Instability and homelessness among women veterans and their children are also on the rise, he said in the release.

“The VHHP funding generates more than four walls and a roof for veterans who are struggling,” said California Veterans Affairs Secretary Vito Imbasciani. “It provides a safe place with supportive services that create a ladder for success from chronic homelessness.”