On Tuesday, July 25, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted to approve $1.62 million in funding over the next two years to support efforts to provide housing for homeless individuals in the Santa Clara Valley – serving individuals experiencing homelessness in the cities of Santa Paula, Fillmore, and the unincorporated area of Piru. The funding from the County will match funding provided by the City of Santa Paula and City of Fillmore.
In tandem, the Santa Paula City Council held a special meeting on July 19 to approve an agreement that will contribute $24,000 per month for two years to support the operations of the nonprofit Spirit of Santa Paula Harvard Shelter for the unhoused. The shelter, located at 1498 E. Harvard Blvd., has been providing essential services to 49 individuals, including 19 children, in need of assistance.
“This is a resource not just for one city – it’s for the city of Santa Paula, the city of Fillmore, and unincorporated areas,” said 3rd District Supervisor Kelly Long. “The Spirit of Santa Paula is a homeless shelter with a big heart. It serves a great purpose for the Santa Clara Valley as a whole and represents the city of Santa Paula, the city of Fillmore, and the County coming together to provide this resource. This action is making the operations of the shelter sustainable for the future.”
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in 2018 to match any city’s contribution aimed at providing emergency or year-round shelter services. This is the 4th initiative approved by the Board of Supervisors to address the growing need for affordable housing and increased services for individuals experiencing homelessness in the region. While other cities such as Thousand Oaks, Ventura, and Oxnard have similar agreements with the county for their shelter programs, Spirit of Santa Paula operates as a nonprofit organization, as explained by Community and Economic Development Director, James Mason.
Funding for this initiative from the City of Santa Paula will be allocated from the city’s general fund. The decision to support the Spirit of Santa Paula Harvard Shelter comes after the Fillmore City Council voted on July 11 to contribute $150,000 annually for two years to the same cause.
Dan Singer, Santa Paula City Manager, expressed, “the establishment of this year-round emergency shelter as a sustainable model is the result of a genuine collaborative effort involving our communities, County, and State partners. The cost-sharing agreement will offer essential resources to support individuals experiencing homelessness in the Santa Clara Valley. Many thanks to the County Board of Supervisors, Assemblymember Steve Bennett and the City of Fillmore for their unwavering commitment to ending homelessness in Ventura County.”
Speaking in support of the city’s funding decision last week were Assemblymember Steve Bennett and Kay Wilson-Bolton, volunteer executive director of the shelter and founder of Spirit of Santa Paula. Bennett, who has been involved in addressing homelessness in Santa Paula for the past two decades, highlighted the significance of the funding for the shelter’s operations. He commended the city for leveraging its contribution with the county’s matching funds, emphasizing the ethical, economic, and legal implications of supporting the unhoused population.
The shelter will operate within the Ventura County Continuum of Care’s Pathways to Home program and will provide access to a wide range of programs and supportive services to provide temporary shelter to 49 individuals. Each occupant of the shelter will have access to case plan management and services that are client-centered, culturally and linguistically appropriate, and sensitive to the wide range of needs of the occupants. The ultimate goal of the program is to assist each occupant in securing stable and affordable housing.
For more information on these efforts, please contact James Mason, Community and Economic Development Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.