A new apartment complex in Oxnard is addressing the problem of affordable housing for homeless veterans and other former service members in Ventura County.
On Monday, 11 veterans moved into Ormond Beach Villas, a complex opened by affordable-housing nonprofit Many Mansions that eventually will house 39 veterans and their families. The townhouse-style complex consists of 15 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom and five three-bedroom apartments at 5527-5567 Saviers Road.
“Many Mansions is excited to bring this needed housing to our veterans and their families. Ventura County is home to over 44,000 veterans, and is ranked as the 13th least affordable county in the nation,” Rick Schroeder, president of Many Mansions, stated in a news release.
The development will provide much-needed affordable housing for veterans, including those who previously were homeless. Veteran homelessness is an issue across the state; among homeless veterans, California has the largest portion in the nation that are unsheltered, according to statistics. The 2019 Homeless Count found 80 homeless veterans in Ventura County, with the majority over age 55.
While the Veterans’ Home of California in Ventura provides assisted-living facilities for veterans over age 55, the new Many Mansions complex has no age restrictions, allowing younger veterans to move in with their families.
According to Bambi Hosaka, public relations and marketing manager at Many Mansions, there is a large demand for veterans housing in the county. Hosaka says more than 3,000 people reached out when the waiting list opened for Ormond Beach Villas. However, most were ineligible due to the income restrictions for the property.
“That response alone showed how large the demand is for veterans housing. That large demand is exactly why we built this property specifically for veterans, and we’re hoping to push for more veterans housing,” Hosaka said.
In order to be eligible, applicants must make no more than 60% of the area’s median income.
Veterans apply first through the Oxnard Housing Authority, and then can receive a specific Section 8 voucher for the Ormond Beach Villas. Under Section 8 vouchers, individuals pay 30% of their income toward rent, with the voucher covering the difference.
Residents of Ormond Beach Villas must fall into one of three groups: chronically homeless, homeless with a disability, or a low- or very low-income veteran family. Widows of veterans also can apply. A total of 18 units are designated for formerly homeless veterans, while the rest are allocated to low-income families.
Many Mansions prioritized housing homeless veterans first, according to Derrick Wada, associate director of real estate development at Many Mansions.
“The first veterans we moved in on Monday were all formerly homeless. We prioritized housing that homeless population first because those are the people who are most in need,” he said.
Most units in the complex are multi-level townhomes with a ground-level porch, a balcony and a tandem garage. Additionally, 10% of units are specially equipped for residents with disabilities, and 4% have altered doorbells, smoke alarms and other features for sensory impaired individuals. Units for formerly homeless veterans come fully furnished.
“The reaction we’ve had from people moving in is very emotional. People have seemed more shocked than anything else,” Hosaka said. “These are veterans who were formerly homeless, and they might have thought they didn’t have hope anymore, and now they have a place to call home.”
The apartments face a large central courtyard with a playground, a community garden and an American flag. In addition to housing, residents will receive on-site support services such as case management and life skills workshops, and children will receive on-site homework tutoring.
Ormond Beach Villas will celebrated its grand opening earlier this month.
Many Mansions is still accepting applications for the complex, and expects to reach capacity by the end of the year.
Veterans can apply for Ormond Beach Villas through the Oxnard Housing Authority: https://www.oxnard.org/city-department/housing/.
Please note the article was first published on the Ventura County Star – article written by Erin Rode.