Homeless Report by the Grand Jury

Jun 29 - admin
Where Are You Sleeping Report Overlooks Key Element
Douglas A. Tapking, Executive Director, Area Housing Authority

The ultimate conclusion of the Ventura County Grand Jury’s report, Where Are You Sleeping Tonight (May 20, 2010), is that there needs to be more affordable housing and more done to create affordable housing.  Most of us would certainly concur with this finding.  

The lack of affordable housing and long waiting lists are not news.  The eye-opening realization that needs to be conveyed in reports like Where Are You Sleeping Tonight is that established programs keep thousands of households from sleeping on the streets, yet this is clearly not enough.  We have to do more.

It is also important to consider that solutions to the homelessness issue require more than a "one size fits all” approach.  Regrettably, the Grand Jury neglected to take into account all the affordable housing units, subsidy programs, and self-sufficiency resources that unequivocally reduce homelessness in our communities.  Public housing units, along with affordable units owned/managed by local housing authorities, non-profit organizations, and for-profit developers, do not appear to be included in the Grand Jury’s report as part of the "permanent” stock of affordable housing.  

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, which provides monthly rent subsidies for low income households, also does not appear to have been considered as a resource to thwart additional homelessness.  There is no doubt that without these programs, there would be many more homeless individuals in our communities.

When all these resources are combined, there is a considerable impact in our communities.  There are over 6,000 Section 8 vouchers for rental subsidies in use in Ventura County.  Add to that almost 2,000 public housing units and a similar amount of affordable and supportive housing provided by local non-profits. Yet despite all these resources, the need is so much greater.  Current programs are so over-subscribed that waiting lists are one to five years long.
 
Ultimately, gains are made through focused effort.  HOME brings focus and the understanding that collaboration is essential.  In concert with key community stakeholders, HOME continues to advocate for increased amounts and types of affordable housing resources for differing life circumstances.
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