Life filled with optimism and promise

“Thank you for your commitment to making sure that people can be inspired, empowered…” – Jade*

Having an opportunity to express my gratitude for being able to live, raise my son, and go to school in a community that makes sure that people can accomplish their dreams has been such a blessing. I moved to California after being informed that I wouldn’t have a place to live with my young son upon my arrival. I was left to find housing. We slept in our car, lived at a shelter, and spent a month in an RV on a farm all while I took my son to school, and found work. This was the end of 2012 when I applied for housing through Many Mansions.

Your organization offered us mental health support, food, holiday gifts, onsite support, school Scholarships, and all the moral support needed to get over any hurdles. I have worked so hard to keep stability and consistency. Honestly, if it had not been for Many Mansions, I’m not certain where we would have ended up. Today I am a College Graduate with three AA’s and am continuing my pursuit to a higher education. My son is a fulltime college student that is also working towards his first degree. Your support changed our lives. I am truly thankful for the blessing that I have had and continue to have to keep growing. What a gift it has been to be offered residency in a safe surrounding that enables people from all walks of life to also have stability.

There isn’t enough gratitude that I can express for all that you do to help people that for one reason or another have fallen on hard times. It is with the deepest amount of appreciation that I say thank you for being here. Thank you for your commitment to making sure that people can be inspired, empowered, and live a life filled with optimism and promise.

*Name changed to protect resident’s privacy


Alexander Russell is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Many Mansions. He is one of the leading advocates and experts in affordable housing in the southern California region and is currently the chair or past chair of the board of directors of three other local affordable housing nonprofits: the Housing Trust Fund of Ventura County, the Housing Land Trust of Ventura County, and the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing. He has an M.B.A. from California Lutheran University, a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine, completed the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate at USC, and has his California real estate broker license. Fun fact: He loves adventure sports such as bungee jumping, skydiving, and he recently rappelled waterfalls in Maui.
When asked some additional questions, the below was shared:
Tell us about the strides that have been made over the past 18 months.
Many Mansions is an award winning local non-profit affordable housing builder, property manager, and services provider whose mission is to provide quality affordable rental housing in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, and services (including free after school tutoring programs, summer camp, college scholarships, food assistance, and much more) that encourage our residents to thrive. Operating since 1979, Many Mansions was recognized as the 2020 Developer of the Year by the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing and is one of the leading local providers of affordable housing for lower-income people that are homeless, disabled, veterans, transitional age youth (TAY), seniors, and other vulnerable populations. While challenging, that past 18 months have been exciting as Many Mansions is currently experiencing unprecedented growth and our housing portfolio is expected to double in size in the next five years. We are continually seeking new volunteers, supporters, and partnerships with other community groups, builders, etc. so if you are looking to get involved with a mission-driven and innovative organization and to help make a positive impact in the community, please visit our website at
What has your company’s greatest accomplishment been so far in 2021?
Many Mansions is proud of our continued growth in the San Fernando Valley. In partnership with LA Family Housing, we are nearly complete with construction on the Summit View Apartments, located across the street from and with beautiful views of the Hansen dam. This gorgeous apartment complex will have 49 apartments and substantial community space and amenities to serve the homeless and disabled veterans that will move into their homes early next year. Additionally, Many Mansions recently broke ground on the Sun King Apartments, located across the street from Sun Valley high school. Given the proximity to several schools and the rise in homelessness among school-aged children in our community, this development, unlike most housing for the homeless, will focus on homeless families. In partnership with the LA Unified School District (LAUSD), this development will give a preference for households that are homeless and have a child attending an LAUSD school.
What benefits have been gained by having a seat at the table with VICA?
While Many Mansions is a nonprofit, we are a business too, and have over 75 employees and many of the same issues, concerns, and needs as all VICA members. Therefore, we appreciate the networking events, the opportunity to participate on local advocacy via the land use and not-for-profit committees, and the larger advocacy work and resources (e.g., action alerts, newsletters, etc.) that help keep us current on important events affecting our community.
Can you share what VICA has meant for your business during COVID?
As a local nonprofit, we are reliant on community outreach and support. Thus, despite the challenges of COVID, VICA has really helped Many Mansions grow its presence in the San Fernando Valley through innovative events, networking, and public relations opportunities.
Article originally appeared in the VICA Weekly

Grateful for a stable place to live

Rosanna Marie Allen was born in Ventura, CA in December 1983. She was named after the song “Rosanna” by Toto, and moved to Newbury Park with her mother, brother, and sister when she was 13 years old. Rosanna enjoyed taking care of animals since she rescued her first kittens as a kindergartener.

At the age of 18, Rosanna was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, the first of many immune disorders to follow.  She went from being a straight A’s student in honors classes to being in danger of not even passing. However, Rosanna took matters into her own hands, completed her high school, and ended up graduating early with straight A’s.  Although Rosanna suddenly lost her father when she was 22 years old, she worked as a veterinary assistant for several years and even had her own pet sitting business for a few years until she moved to Oregon to get married.  However, Rosanna ended her marriage due to health issues and moved back home in 2008. She quickly found herself homeless, unemployed, and uninsured; she stayed in shelters as in need of serious medical care. Before taking time off to get her health back on track, Rosanna was attending Ventura College and was halfway through two degrees, a Bachelor in Business Administration and Psychology. Rosanna is in the process of plotting her return to finish those degrees.

Many Mansions has been Rosanna’s home for the past 11 years now. She is grateful to have a stable place to live, and to receive help from our case management program. Her mission in life is being a voice for the animals and a voice for the voiceless.

Shadow Hills Apartments has a very rich and interesting history

Shadow Hills hosted Many Mansions’ first residential service programs! Not only did we introduce the Homework Club in 1998 (the ‘Afterschool Homework Literacy Program’) in the newly renovated Community Building, but we hosted an English as a Second Language (ESL) program and a Karate program; On November 12, 2000 Shadow Hills suffered a major fire on the second and third floors of ‘243’ Building. There were no injuries, but the fire caused more than $1 million in property damage; Many of the residents who were displaced by the fire temporarily lived at the Village Inn Motel, which later became the Esseff Village Apartments. Thanks to the support of countless faith-based and other community organizations, daily food provisions were distributed to all displaced residents at the Soltow Center (Villa Garcia Apartments Community Room);  Several months later, in June of 2001, a motor vehicle ran through the Community Room window; For many years, Interface (a social services agency) leased five units at Shadow Hills for their emancipated youth program; We have run the Food Share program out of Shadow Hills for many years. There is a mural next to the pool. Several of the boats in the mural have names related to the parties involved in the rehabilitation.

A Heartfelt Letter of Appreciation

“I am honored to be a ripple of hope” – William Garcia

I was reminiscing today on my journey through college and where I am now. I could not help but think of all the people that believed in me and helped me along the way. Vicky’s Scholarship Fund is such a blessing and means the world to me. Many Mansions provided many resources and opportunities to families and children. I am honored to have been a recipient of this Scholarship for all of my years in college. I remember going to college my first year with three suitcases full of clothes, a sleeping bag and a lot of hope! I worked every summer and saved every penny of it in order to be able to pay for housing and bills but somehow always managed to run out of money by the time I needed to pay for books (which are very overpriced!). The funds I received from this scholarship paid for all the books and resources I needed every year.

I graduated CSU, Chico with a major in Finance in 2018. I was able to join a wonderful finance company in Texas straight out of college as an Underwriter. I love my job as I am able to be a part of a great group that helps businesses grow and be able to not worry about how their next payroll will be covered. I have been working here for 3 years now and am so grateful.

I lived in Shadow Hills until I was 18 (lived there for all 18). Many Mansions helped shape my life for all of those years. I was able to live happily with my family in a safe environment. I attended summer camp every year, I volunteered at the camp for a few years, and I also joined every opportunity they had to give back to the community.

I am honored to be a “ripple of hope” and hope to create more ripples.

Thank you to the Vicky’s fund committee especially Marty, and your family that have created this wonderful legacy.

Stoll House: From Transitional Housing to Permanent Housing (non-supportive)

Stoll House Apartments has played a unique and transformative role in Many Mansions’ history.

Stoll House is our third developed property and our third smallest property. Its 11 units consists of 3 one-bedroom, 7 two-bedroom, and 1 four-bedroom units, located just off Hampshire Road in Thousand Oaks. It opened on January 20, 1998.

While this property has been relatively quiet over the past few years, this was certainly not the case for most of its history. Indeed, for many years this single property dominated the organization’s attention: its attention  for services, property management, applicant processing, finances, fundraising, resident relations, and community relations.

Indeed, Stoll House very much represented ‘the heart of Many Mansions.’ For much of the community, staff, and Board Stoll House was Many Mansions.

Stoll House’s outsized importance derived from it being operated (1998-2014) as a transitional housing facility for homeless families. In 2015 it was re-designated as permanent (affordable) housing.

While Schillo Gardens was Many Mansions’ first new construction project, Stoll House was Many Mansions’ first new construction project that was developed by Many Mansions staff (not Board) members.

The community greatly supported this development. The property was originally named ‘Community House Apartments.’ In the mid-1990s the City of Thousand Oaks Housing identified in its Housing Element ‘housing for homeless families’ as one of its top priorities. We took up this challenge and purchased the land and the architectural plans already in place for the construction of an 11-unit apartment complex. The City and the County of Ventura were two of the project’s early financial supporters. Later funding came from the State (HOME funds) and tax credits (Edison was our first investor).

There was a wonderful groundbreaking and grand opening. More importantly, many individuals and community groups and organizations (e.g., churches, synagogues, services clubs, individuals, etc.) contributed to furnishing the units with furniture, appliances, clothing, food, etc. Because of Otto Stoll’s on-going and substantial contribution to Many Mansions as a community leader and Board member, the Board re-named the property ‘Stoll House.’

Over the next 16 years (1998-2014) we operated this property as a transitional housing facility and assisted hundreds of residents —residents transitioning from homelessness to housing, instability to stability, unemployment to employment, failure to success.

Our case management program was intense. Program participation was a condition of the residents’ housing. Our on-site case managers worked individually and in groups with all the Stoll House residents. The residents worked on life-skills, job development, education, computer skills, other areas for improvement. Sometimes a portion of their rent would go to a separate savings program for future housing. The overriding goal was for the resident to transition to permanent housing (at first, to permanent housing outside of Many Mansions). We prohibited alcohol and set a curfew. There were no overnight guests.

We have had Board members and staff members come from Stoll House.

Unfortunately, there were many challenges and problems with Stoll House as a transitional housing facility.

First, the property lost money each year—money which had to be funded by Many Mansions.  The cost of operations and programs were quite high, while the property’s revenue was quite low. We relied upon substantial government grants (e.g., FESG, ESG, CDBG, CoC, etc.), donations, and private grants, but even these were not enough.

Second, the constant turnover put a strain upon our Property Management staff. Since a resident could only live at Stoll House for 1-2 years, we had to constantly re-fill the units. Finding qualified applicants who wanted to live in a structured and confined housing environment was a challenge. We frequently had high vacancies–imposing more strain upon the finances.

Third, the nature of the residents changed. Our early Stoll House residents were mostly single mothers with children who had been housed, suffered some traumatic event (sudden divorce, spousal abuse, etc.), found themselves and their children unhoused, and just needed temporary housing (and some time) to ‘get themselves back on their feet.’

Over time, though, we began to house residents who were chronically homeless, had drug and substance abuse issues, came from  incarceration, needed greater assistance than we could provide, and were often resistant to participating in our programs. Drug usage (and dealing) became a problem.

Additionally, transferring to permanent affordable housing became a difficult goal to achieve. Housing, including Many Mansions housing, was scarce. As a result, several of our Stoll House residents left Stoll House without securing permanent housing and slipped back into homelessness.

Beginning in 2012 the federal and state government stopped funding transitional housing programs. Embracing the ‘Housing First’ model, the governmental agencies believed that transitional housing was ‘too expensive’ and ‘unnecessary’ since homeless persons should just be placed into permanent supportive housing (why have the ‘transitional’ step?).

Because state and federal grants represented over 50% of Stoll House’s revenue, we asked for and received permission to convert Stoll House from transitional housing to permanent housing (non-supportive).

Stoll House remains a very special property for Many Mansions and the countless hundreds of lives which it has assisted.

Share Your Stimulus Check

Your Stimulus Check – GIVE to Those in Need!

The lives of Luis and his father, George, a disabled veteran, turned around when they moved to Many Mansions. They now have a stable place to call home which makes it possible for George to get to the dialysis clinic for his scheduled appointments with certainty.

Alarmingly, Luis’s car broke down recently. Skipping a dialysis appointment can be life threatening. So, Luis turned to Many Mansions for assistance.  Many Mansions immediately provided a grant from our Resident Emergency Need Fund.  Luis was able to take his father to the dialysis clinic in a timely manner. 

The Resident Emergency Need Fund helps residents when they need immediate financial assistance.  It is used for a range of unexpected difficulties including car repair, groceries, gas to get to work, and even diapers.  A resident can receive assistance once a year for a maximum of $500.

Donate all, or part, of your stimulus check to help families who are living on the edge and an unexpected expense will put them over. Know you have invested your check in the most meaningful way, helping a neighbor in difficult circumstances.

PLEDGE to the Resident Emergency Need Fund
DONATE to the Resident Emergency Need Fund

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Message

Blog MLK
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Message
By Rick Schroeder, President

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. played a significant role in removing barriers to housing which existed for too many of our fellow citizens.  In 1965 Dr. King began the ‘Chicago Freedom Movement’, a campaign which sought to challenge discrimination in employment, education, and housing in the city of Chicago.  Attacking such discrimination was a natural outgrowth of his work in civil and voting rights in the South since such racial discrimination, including discrimination in housing, existed throughout the United States, even in the North.  In a speech in Chicago on March 12, 1966, Dr. King spoke of the deplorable living conditions forced upon so many because of prejudice, segregation, racial covenants, redlining, and other discriminatory practices.

Although Dr. King’s life was tragically cut short just two years later, his death immediately led to the adoption of the Fair Housing Act of 1968—a law which prohibits discrimination in housing based on one’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status and ensures that all Americans have access to equal housing opportunities.

As we honor Dr. King’s birthday and legacy in 2021, we know that we still have a long way to go before all Americans have access to equal housing opportunities.   Recent events have demonstrated that many areas of our life, including education, employment, income, and housing, are neither equal nor accessible to all.

At Many Mansions we play an important role in bringing Dr. King’s vision to those in our community most in need of housing and those who have been denied its equal access.  We continue to envision a world where everyone, if given the opportunity, can reach their potential through stable, affordable, and enriching housing.  We remain dedicated to developing affordable housing communities which are just, which are open, which give dignity, which give opportunity, and which give hope.

Dr. King ended his Chicago speech by asking that we engage in a sort of ‘Divine Dissatisfaction’ until “the American Dream is a Reality.”  That we remain ‘dissatisfied’ until there is no more oppression and segregation in our lives, including housing.  He warns that, “the road ahead will not always be smooth,” and that “our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted.”   But as difficult and painful as it may be, “We must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.”

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration let us honor this great man and dedicate ourselves to his vision.

Many Mansions: A Commitment to Racial Justice and Equity

Many Mansions: A Commitment to Racial Justice and Equity

Many Mansions was founded 40 years ago on a set of core values—values which continue to guide our decisions and actions today. These values include respect, integrity, compassion, and a commitment to racial and equitable justice.

We envision a world where everyone can reach their potential through stable and enriching affordable housing. This is why we have dedicated ourselves to creating communities where our residents can live and thrive, regardless of their circumstances.

We recognize that this country still has long way to go. We acknowledge that racism and discrimination are very real and remain a barrier for many in our community, especially those who are people of color.

Peaceful protests throughout our country, including those here in Ventura County, testify to a collective desire to change this status quo–to broaden and promote opportunity and equity for all segments of our society, especially those who have been and are victims of institutionalized and historic racism.

We stand with those who desire this change. We are resolved to work even harder to develop affordable communities—communities which are open, which are just, and which are free of violence; communities which give hope, which give opportunity, and which give dignity. We are resolved to work even harder to advocate for these changes—to push governments and institutions to take all necessary and appropriate action to dismantle and remove these barriers and injustices.

We will listen and we will learn. We will not be silent.

– Rick Schroeder, President of Many Mansions

“Please Don’t Forget Us”


Written by Rick Schroeder

I had just come back from vacation.  Having been out of the office for more than a week, I faced hundreds of emails, scores of voice mail messages, a stack of mail a foot deep, and a number of co-workers impatiently waiting at my door.

As the busy morning progressed, I finally checked the voice mail messages.  Larry had left messages nearly every day. His last message–

Rick, this is Larry. I stopped by the office.  The receptionist lady told me you were gone. I left you a note. Don’t tell me to give up Davidson.  He saved me, Rick.  I can’t just give him up! I won’t do that to him.  Talk to you later. Larry.”

Larry calls me at least once a week.  Larry is homeless.

I was annoyed. For the past three years, I have been trying to help Larry. I have urged patience, but Larry cannot seem to understand that there is a very long waiting list for affordable housing, especially supportive housing, and that very few units become available.  He further refuses to stay at an emergency shelter since that would mean separating from up his dog, Davidson.

I fished through the stack of letters, agreements, and other mail and found Larry’s note.


I stared at the note.  I put it aside and went back to work.

But throughout the morning I kept coming back to his note, especially its last line: “Please DON’T forget US!”

Had I forgotten him?  Would I forget him and all the men, women, and children who were homeless like him?  How could I?  Over the past decade, homelessness has grown and has become very visible.  There are close to 2,000 persons homeless in Ventura County and close to 60,000 in Los Angeles County.

And yet his concern was valid: we want to forget Larry and those like him.  Staring at the pain, the suffering, and the accumulated loss of our fellow human beings, with the realization that we as a society have failed them at a time they were most in need makes us want to sweep away our guilt and shame and think of other things.  Is not homelessness so large, so entrenched, and so overwhelming that there is very little we can do?  Will the poor not always be with us?

Larry’s concern was valid, but we can change this. Yes, ‘the poor will always be with us,’ but this does not mean that the poor have to be without a home.  Homelessness is a man-made problem, and it has man-made solutions.  The solutions are difficult and expensive and will take a long time, but, ultimately, we can end homelessness.  We must try.

Larry, I promise you that you will not be forgotten!  Many Mansions, its Board of Directors, its staff, and its many supporters are dedicated to helping you and those like you find a home.

That morning, I put Larry’s letter on my bulletin board.  I look at it every day.