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$2.3 Million in Federal Aid for Homeless OKd

Ventura County

Grants: Funding will provide apartments for the mentally ill and emergency family shelters during the winter months.

November 21, 2001|JENIFER RAGLAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

More than $2.3 million in federal aid for the homeless announced Tuesday will pay for half a dozen projects throughout Ventura County, from apartments for the mentally ill in Thousand Oaks to emergency shelter for struggling families in Oxnard.

The money is part of $1 billion in grants awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development this year to provide housing and other services to the nation's homeless.

The funding is crucial to sustain projects that serve Ventura County's homeless population, officials said.

"This is very good news," said Karol Schulkin, the county's program administrator for homeless services. All four proposals submitted by the Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition, totaling $1.3 million, were funded this year.

"It's like a grand slam," she said.

About $805,000 will go to Oxnard to fund three projects, including the eight-bed Wooley House for mentally ill homeless adults and a network of support services to help those on the street move into permanent apartments and get jobs.

Drop-In Homeless Center Gets Funding

"All of our projects are renewals, so it was very important we obtained the funding to continue them," said Clyde Reynolds, executive director of the Turning Point Foundation, which serves the county's mentally ill homeless.

The Commission on Human Concerns' drop-in homeless center in Oxnard will get about $208,000 to boost programs and services.

The group will add a staff member, create a drug and alcohol treatment program and sponsor more workshops to help the homeless find employment, prepare for interviews and sustain jobs, said Aurora Moreno, manager of the commission's family and community services department.

In Thousand Oaks, the nonprofit Many Mansions will get about $316,000 to help pay the rent at 13 apartment units for mentally ill homeless adults, Schulkin said.

Buildings to Be Converted to Shelters

Separately, emergency shelter funding--about $193,000 for the county--will help convert buildings into shelters during the winter months, subsidize a family's rent or security deposit, or pay for temporary motel stays.

"Those things are very helpful, because then when people apply for jobs, they are not coming right off the street," said Lee Riggan, executive director of the Commission on Human Concerns. "Once they can get a job, maintain a job and get their first paycheck, that can help them get into housing."

This week, the Oxnard City Council is expected to approve use of the National Guard Armory on South K Street as the temporary winter shelter for west Ventura County for the third year in a row.

Ventura officials had approved use of an armory on Arundell Avenue this year, but the building is still under construction as part of a state earthquake safety program, said Nicole Doner, associate planner in Ventura. It is scheduled to open in January.

Last year, a survey of the county's winter homeless shelters tallied nearly 300 people, one-third of whom were women and children.

One of the biggest gaps in the county's services, Schulkin said, is a year-round shelter for families.

"All of us have come against hard times very unexpectedly," she said. "It can be a very thin margin between those who are housed and those who are homeless."

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