This editorial originally appeared in VC Star, on Feb. 21, 2018
“Affordable housing for veterans coming to Oxnard next year”
Vietnam veterans, advocates of affordable housing and local politicians gathered Wednesday morning in Oxnard to celebrate the groundbreaking of an upcoming project that will house Ventura County low-income veterans.
Many Mansions, a Thousand Oaks-based provider of affordable housing and services, will begin construction on the Oxnard property next month, with an estimated completion date of May 2019. The project, Ormond Beach Villas at 5527-5567 Saviers Road, will include 40 units for veterans and their families.
Ormond Beach Villas will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units in five three-story buildings on a 1.81-acre property. Many Mansions will manage the property, which will cater to homeless veterans and veterans with disabilities or other special needs.
The property is ideally located for housing Ventura County’s veteran population, according to Rick Schroeder, president of Many Mansions
“We liked this site because the city had already designated it for affordable housing and approved the design for it,” Schroeder said. “Being close to the base and Port Hueneme, we thought this would be an ideal place for veteran housing.”
Ormond Beach Villas is Many Mansions’ first veterans-only housing project and its first permanent affordable-housing project in Oxnard, Schroeder said. The nonprofit has created 14 other affordable-housing projects. Schroeder estimated Ormond Beach Villas would begin putting applicants on a waiting list in August.
The groundbreaking event featured several speakers, including Schroeder and officials who discussed the importance of advocating affordable housing in Ventura County’s expensive housing market.
Although Ventura County’s housing market has historically grappled with affordability issues, projects such as Ormond Beach Villas can help improve the situation, according to Rep. Julia Brownley, who spoke at the event.
“There a severe lack of housing for this population of people in the county, so this is a giant step in the right direction,” said Brownley, D-Westlake Village. “Housing is pretty expensive, and to have affordable housing in the community is important, so all of our community members, including our police, firefighters and teachers, can live in the community. This is a perfect example of a community coming together to support housing, in this particular case, for our veterans.”
Brownley, who serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, added that President Donald Trump’s recently released budget would sharply cut resources for grant programs that allow for projects such as Ormond Beach Villas and argued that residents interested in advocating for affordable housing should engage with their local elected officials.
Many Mansions’ newest construction effort is a positive sign that county residents and Oxnard officials are interested in promoting affordable-housing builders, according to Oxnard Housing Director Arturo Casillas. Casillas noted that funds for the project came from several sources, including $992,000 from the city of Oxnard in the form of bridge funding and housing in-lieu fees.
Beyond financial contributions, residents can encourage developers to support affordable-housing programs by getting engaged with local organizations and connecting with city officials, according to Casillas.
Residents “can join housing and homeless commissions to advocate for affordable housing,” Casillas said. “We have weekly City Council meetings every Tuesday at 6 p.m. ,and there’s a public-comment period. There are different venues to express support for the expansion of affordable housing.”
More information about Many Mansions is available at https://www.manymansions.org.