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Thursday, April 29, 2021

By Chris Frost

Ventura-- The Board of Supervisors, on April 27, approved a memorandum of understanding between the county and the City of Oxnard detailing the conceptual framework, development, and operation of a permanent emergency shelter.


The shelter will help people experiencing homelessness and is consistent with the framework set up with the board in 2018. It is modeled after the City of Ventura created The Arch, a 55-bed shelter, in a county-owned building.


The county and city started meeting regularly in 2018 to pursue the establishment of a west county shelter system, with permanent shelters, in each city. The city and county jointly issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) and selected Mercy House as the anticipated operator for both shelters. 


Oxnard approved a location at Second and B streets to operate a comprehensive homeless solutions center in the city.


In Supervisor comments, Carmen Ramirez saluted her former city council colleagues, who voted unanimously for the homeless solutions center.


"Not everybody in the city thought it was a great idea," she said. "It takes some courage to vote for these things, to move an agenda forward and help the people living on the streets. We don't want to see people living on the streets and living in the bushes in our neighborhoods. But we do want to see the people get the services that every human being deserves."


Supervisor Kelly Long said the old board worked hard on the project.


"To finally see this come to fruition is exciting," she said. 


During public comments, Brittany Seniff with Community Development Partners said her group worked closely with Mercy House and the City of Oxnard to make the Homeless Solutions Center a reality.


"To make sure that we helped in any way to get all the estimates that went into this MOU," she said. "We thoughtfully laid out what the shelter would look like and meet the needs of the residents that would be using this space."


Via email, Jackson Piper asked the supervisors to fund the Homeless Solutions Center.


"Homelessness has been an increasingly severe crisis in California in the past decade and has become a physical presence in our community," she said. "While some homeless have mental health and substance abuse issues, there are families with children who are not earning enough to afford the cost of living in Ventura, and they all need support to successfully re-integrate into the community."


The item passed.