Coming Home

Written by Joe Granados

Before experiencing 2 years of homelessness, Janet had a home with her husband and two adult children. She described her life as pleasant and filled with love. At the age of 54, Janet suffered the loss of her husband. His death began the dissolution of Janet’s life as she knew it. Her physical and mental health were impacted; meanwhile, she struggled to maintain her finances and home.

“I can’t believe I went through that,” she shared when describing being homeless in Oxnard and Ventura. She explained that her relationship with her children had deteriorated, as everyone went their own way. She was further affected by the stress and trauma of being homeless. Janet came to utilize several of the social services in Ventura, and had the opportunity to obtain permanent supportive housing with Many Mansions.

It has been approximately 2 years since Janet has maintained her apartment with Many Mansions. During her transition, Janet was met with further challenges in apartment living and her sense of self-determination. She would routinely meet with her on-site case manager for support. Janet expressed that she would like to improve her physical and mental health, and developed a case plan with case management. Janet also expressed a desire to obtain her driver’s license, and put her desire into action as she studied for the exam and passed.

Her family means a lot to her. Janet reconnected with her adult children, and she is now a grandmother. She describes her life as increasingly stable. “I want to be there for my grandkids,” she shares when discussing her wellbeing. Janet sheds a tear when she recounts the past 4 years of her life. Her strength is her optimism, as she looks forward to the future.

A Hopeful Hopportunity

Written by Cheyenne Bingham

When you drive down East Thousand Oaks Boulevard to come visit us, you might notice a very distinct animal perched near our Main Office. Come a little closer, and you’ll have the chance to admire the peaceful gaze and the colorful blue, yellow, and red fur coat of an affable fiberglass bunny.

Meet Hope. 

In August 2019, this Conejo Cottontail hopped its way home to Many Mansions. A joint project between Art Trek, Inc. and the Arts Council of the Conejo Valley, Conejo Cottontails is a public art project painted by local artists and displayed around the community. Named for our ubiquitous rabbit population in and around the (appropriately named) Conejo Valley, Conejo Cottontails supports bringing the arts for seniors, at-risk youth, and disabled adults.

Sponsored by Eddy and Cate Hartenstein and Andy and Jill Binsley, Hope is a 5-foot, 6-inch fiberglass bunny. It was named by Bambi Hosaka, a long time staff member and supporter of Many Mansions. Bambi came up with the name while visiting the bunny while it was being painted. She was inspired by the work Many Mansions was doing that year on Ormond Beach Villas, our first property to serve homeless and low-income veterans. This was the year we were giving hope to homeless and low-income veterans too, she said. The bunny itself should be named Hope.

Anette Power, the artist behind the work, was similarly inspired. She said, “My goal was to incorporate my love of color with the distinct colors of Many Mansions – and to have the design signify and celebrate what Many Mansions does. The Hope that Home provides… The challenge was to translate, not just the shape of home (square) onto the 3 dimensional curvy bunny, but also capture the very deep meaning home holds.”

This project is where the purpose of Many Mansions and Conejo Cottontails intertwine. Conejo Cottontails is working hard to bring the arts to a world that is increasingly without it. Similarly, we too are fighting to provide safe, affordable housing to a world that has too little of it. For the both of us and, indeed, for the community at large—this bunny signifies a desire for a future. A future in which the people in our great community are guaranteed lives full of stability, meaning, safety, happiness, and beauty.

May we all have a little more Hope in our lives.


Pier Support

Written by Larry Rosen


At the time of writing this, I was an employee of Many Mansions for 6 months. I was in need of new employment, having spent many years working in Substance Use treatment. I was searching for a position that would allow me to utilize my skills to be of maximum service to others.

When I saw the ad for a Peer Support Specialist and what the population was at Many Mansions, I knew that it looked like the place I wanted to be. I feel fortunate and grateful to have been brought into the Many Mansions family. I immediately was made to feel welcome, and the staff here has been wonderful to work with.

I coordinate and facilitate many different types of workshops for our residents, from life skills, to emotional and physical growth workshops, to just spending time together in “Morning Reflections.” I really have begun to establish the types of relationships with our residents that helps them feel comfortable in sharing their stories with me. As a Peer Support Specialist, I have had my own struggles in life and found many tools to maintain my own recovery, and it is this experience that I try to share each day at Many Mansions.

My most memorable experience to date was in the beginning of my employment here. When I introduced myself to one of our residents as the “Peer Support,” they responded, totally deadpan, “Which one, the Santa Monica or Ventura Pier?” Remembering that helps me come in each day with a smile on my face and a chuckle.

The Many Mansions family are a fantastic group to spend my workdays with. Each day, I come into work hoping that I can help one more person gain new tools for lifting up their lives.

Meaningful Services

Written by Celina Sanchez


When I first heard about Many Mansions, I was looking to volunteer somewhere afterschool and my other job. I saw an advertisement for Many Mansions on my school website and decided to look more into the organization. I ended up finding a job posting for Children Services. I had always wanted to work with kids in some capacity. I knew I wanted to be in the school system, so I was happy to find a position where I could work with kids and help them with their homework.

I didn’t know a lot about nonprofits or Many Mansions when I first started, and I was surprised to learn just how many different services we provide. Through Adult, Children, and Family Services, as well as workshops and programs like the FOOD Share pantries, Many Mansions is able help residents quite a lot! When I was a coordinator at Hillcrest, I would always get both parents and children coming in and expressing their gratitude for all that we do. I love what Many Mansions does for families, and I know that they appreciate it as well.

Through the programs put on by Children Services, we hope to give resident students the resources and help they need to break the cycle of poverty. We aid resident students academically so that they can do well in school, go to college, and get a good career. While we want them to do well, our main goal is really to get them to the point that they like school so that they are able to succeed and do whatever they want to do later on in life.

We are able to help the resident students and provide them with the resources they need in a way that their schools can not necessarily achieve. The staff at their school often do not know what is going on at home. We, however, are here with them every day, doing activities with them, gaining their trust, and building relationships with them.

If something like Homework Club didn’t exist at Many Mansions, resident students would be placed at a disadvantage. Some of them would get their homework done, but they wouldn’t get the help that they need. For example, I know some kids don’t have computers at home and rely on Homework Club to access a computer. Without this resource, resident students would not be able to do many of their school projects. While they could go to the library, Homework Club is onsite and therefore much more accessible to them. In addition to physical resources, resident students are able to get special one-on-one attention from both staff and volunteers. Sometimes, I even see the older teens helping the younger teens.

There are so many benefits of coming to Homework Club. I’m glad that we are able to run Homework Club for the resident students as I’m not sure where they would be without it. One particular student from Hillcrest comes to mind when I think about the success of Homework Club. When he first started, he was very shy and didn’t really talk to any of the kids. He would come in, put his earphones in, and do his homework. He has since grown a lot and really broken out of his shell. He talks to the other kids and has become a great role model and helper for the younger kids. We are very thankful for him!

I love to see the relationships that staff build with residents. You can tell that they are not just doing their job. Many Mansions is truly a community. I love that I can speak to the families and say “hi” to the residents walking by. I truly believe these relationships make Many Mansions the success that it is. Residents feel safe talking to staff. They know that they can be themselves and are not going to be judged.

A Place To Call Home

Written by Bret McLemen

Bret-McLemen-359x359 I had a rather short career in the military. I was stationed on a submarine in Vallejo, California where I got to go down in the sub every day. Unfortunately, I never actually got the chance to go in the water and go somewhere as my boat was always stationed on a dry dock. While I was working to be a machinist, I had to leave the military after a couple years for medical reasons and was not in long enough to make this a reality.

The past couple of years I’ve been in and out of places and homeless. I spent about a year in an insurance building parking lot in Simi Valley where they now have chained fences because of people like me. While staying there, I once went 7 days without food and, while it didn’t end well, the experience did teach me a lot. Now I know my limits.

I’ve been here and there and everywhere for the past couple of years, but I now have a place to call home. I ended up being the first person to move into a unit at Ormond Beach Villas. While they told me to be out of the motel by 10:30am, I was at the site a little before 9:00am and bothered them until they decided they better just assign me my unit. I was shocked at how big it was when I first walked in. I didn’t expect it to be like that.

Now that I am housed, I’m going to try and get a job. Although I haven’t worked in a few years, I don’t like being idle and not doing anything. I have to do something, otherwise it might drive me nuts. While I am so happy to be here, I know there are a lot of veterans out there who are much worse off than I ever was. Even though I was homeless, I still had my car the whole time. I walk past people that are a little bit less fortunate than me, and it just bothers the heck out of me to see them so desperately needing help. I hope that they can get everybody off the street and help them like they have helped me.

We definitely need more projects like this.

Dual Roles

Written by Rafael Gonzales


I have a unique position as both a Many Mansions staff member and resident. I moved here about 7 or 8 years ago with my family when I was in 7th grade. Before I moved to Many Mansions, I was going back and forth from city to city with my family. It was a bit hard, but it made me the person I am today. Seeing what my mom went through, I knew I wanted to do something more, and ultimately help her in the future.

When we first moved here, my two younger siblings and I ended up participating in many of the programs put on by Children Services. Participating in these activities really got me out of my comfort zone and socializing with residents my age. It was a good outlet for me. Children Services also helped me academically. The staff was really great about making me feel welcome, and helping me push through things that I didn’t think I could accomplish. Children Services not only provides academic support in the form of tutoring, but also provides resident students with the supplies they need to complete their school work.

I remember in 5th grade, while living at a shelter, I had to do a craft for the California Missions. I can’t remember if I had the supplies, or if my other classmates brought them, but you really couldn’t do anything at the shelter. Fifth graders at Many Mansions don’t have to go through the same experience. Resident students at Many Mansions are fortunate enough to have access to backpacks and school supplies as well as art supplies for projects like these. Without these resources, it would be difficult for them to do simple tasks at school.

After I graduated high school, and had completed my first year of college, I was offered a position in Children Services. I worked at summer camp the first year which was really great. I enjoy working with kids. Now, I work with chronically homeless families. It’s nice to hear the kids’ comments about us and how much they enjoy the programs that we put on. It’s really a great outlet for them to go somewhere where they can both have fun and learn. I’ve been in their shoes before. It’s rewarding to now be on the other side and able to be the one helping them.

If I am able to reach my goal of becoming a firefighter, I plan to return to Many Mansions to share what I have learned with the children. I would love to bring the entire fire squad to all of the sites and put on an event in which they get to go inside the fire truck and learn more about what firefighters do. In becoming a firefighter, I want to not only protect my broader community, but also further educate them through what I have to offer as a firefighter. If it weren’t for these programs at Many Mansions, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.

In My Father’s House…

Written by Rick Schroeder

Rick-Schroeder-359x359 A donkey came into a village and found an ox lying by a well.

“Mr. Ox,” asked the donkey, “why do you lie by this well?”

“Why do I lie by this well, Brother Donkey?” replied the ox. “I will tell you why I lie by this well. Because I am old, I can no longer pull the heavy plow. My master said that I was too weak and feeble to be of use and he sent me away. I came to this village, but the villagers make fun of me and call me names. I am alone and without a home.”

“Let not your heart be troubled, Mr. Ox. Neither let it be afraid. Stay here. I will come again, for I go to prepare a place for you. In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

The donkey drew water from the well and gave it to the ox. The ox was amazed and he drank the water.

The donkey departed.

Further down the path the donkey came upon a hen crying by a fence.

“Miss Hen,” asked the donkey, “why do you cry by this fence?”

“Why do I cry by this fence, Brother Donkey?” began the hen. “I will tell you why I cry by this fence. My chicks and I fled to escape the cruel and oppressive living conditions imposed upon us by the farmer. He locked us in a coop all day, and we lacked freedom and opportunity. We escaped to this village, but the villagers do not welcome us and only want our eggs! We are alone and without a home.”

“Let not your heart be troubled, Miss Hen. Neither let it be afraid. Stay here. I will come again, for I go to prepare a place for you. In my Father’s house are many mansions.” The donkey gave the hen and her chicks some seeds. They were amazed and they ate the seeds.

The donkey departed.

As the donkey was leaving the village he spied a fox shivering and hiding behind a tree.

“Mr. Fox,” asked the donkey, “why do you shiver and hide behind this tree?”

“Why do I shiver and hide behind this tree, Brother Donkey?” exclaimed the fox. “I will tell you why I shiver and hide behind this tree. When I was young I committed many wrongs. I was ostracized and forced to leave my home. I traveled to this village, but the villagers will neither forgive nor accept me. Though I have changed my ways, I remain an outsider. I am cold and I hide behind this tree because I am ashamed. I am alone and without a home.”

“Let not your heart be troubled, Mr. Fox. Neither let it be afraid. Stay here. I will come again, for I go to prepare a place for you. In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

The donkey gave the fox clothes. The fox was amazed and he put on the clothes.

The donkey departed and left the village.

Several days later the donkey returned to the village. He gathered the ox, the hen and her chicks, and the fox.

“Do not be afraid,” said the donkey. “I have come to take you back with me, so that you may be where I am, also.”

As the donkey led them away, they did not know what to expect but were happy to leave the village and be together.

The donkey brought each to their new dwellings. The donkey wished each of them well and departed.

At first the ox, the hen, her chicks, and the fox were disappointed: the dwellings, while clean and comfortable, were plain and unremarkable. They did not at all look like the ‘mansions’ that they had envisioned. But gradually, they came to accept and love their surroundings and their new friends.

After one year the donkey returned. When he saw the ox, the hen and her chicks, and the fox, together in the courtyard, he asked how they were.

“Oh, Brother Donkey, we could not be happier,” replied the ox. “I am no longer made fun of or called names. Though I am old, my remaining strength still allows me to help my fellow residents. I have never felt more useful.”

“Oh, Brother Donkey, we could not be more hopeful,” chirped the hen. “We are no longer oppressed. With the support of my fellow residents, the chicks and I now have an opportunity for a better life.”

“Oh, Brother Donkey, we could not be more accepted,” stated the fox. “I am no longer ostracized, but forgiven and accepted by my fellow residents. I am no longer ashamed, and have resolved to help others who were once like me.”

The donkey smiled. “My friends,” he began, “you all have come here under different circumstances. Some of you were rejected, some of you were oppressed, some of you were ostracized—all of you were alone and needed a home. In my father’s house are many mansions—a place where all are welcome and accepted, a place where all may live their life to its fullest potential. While it was I who prepared a place for you, it was you who have made it a home.”

Four Affordable Housing Projects Poised for $68M in Funding


178 apartments in Sun Valley, Pico-Union, and South L.A.

In the northeast San Fernando Valley, non-profit developer Many Mansions is seeking roughly $12.1 million in multifamily housing revenue bonds for the development of Sun King, a project which would rise at 9190 N. Telfair Avenue. Plans call for a four-story structure – designed by LOHA – which would feature 26 apartments.

We are one of the four! Our Sun King Apartments (Sun Valley) is included.

– Rick Schroeder

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Bowls of Hope

Written by Glenn Kassel

glenn-kassel-515x359 The Bowls of Hope has always been an exciting event to look forward to each year! I remember my first one nine or ten years ago. I was asked to be a greeter. I was amazed at all dignitaries attending and so enjoyed meeting and chatting with them as they arrived. They all had such wonderful things to say about Many Mansions and what the organization means to the community. This made me feel very proud to be a volunteer.

I also remember the year that it was raining cats and dogs! I felt for sure, as did many, that the turn-out would be low that year. However, it turned out to be a success! I can still see the vision of people in wheelchairs being brought in soaking wet but with smiles on their faces. Everyone was wet but so happy to be there!

Then there was the year that the event had its first Wine Pull. Wow! This was such a great idea! It actually is a blur in my memory for things moved quickly. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to pay for a bottle of wine in support of Many Mansions. I think we sold all of the wine in half an hour! Amazing!

But my favorite part of Bowls of Hope is seeing the children from Homework Club there with their parents and other family members. Being a volunteer at Homework Club for many years, I got to know the children and watch them grow and progress in their schoolwork. This is reward enough! However, to hear their parents tell you how much the Homework Club helps their
children is “the icing on the cake”!