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Off the streets and into homes; Work starts on affordable housing project for Ventura County vets

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KCLU
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Work is underway on "Ventura Springs," a 122 unit apartment complex being built in Ventura County for formerly homeless and low-income veterans. Plans call for it to be ready for occupancy in early 2024.

Two non-profits team up to build $69 million project in East Ventura aimed at helping formerly homeless, and low-income veterans.

We’re at the groundbreaking for a major new affordable housing development on the South Coast for veterans. But, construction crews have already started on a project which will help get some once homeless, as well as low income veterans and their families into long-term homes.

"Ventura Springs is going to be a 122 apartment community for veterans who have experienced homeless, as well as for low-income veterans and their families," said Dora Leong Gallo. She's the President, and CEO of a non-profit housing organization called A Community of Friends.

That organization and another non-profit, called U.S. Vets, teamed up to do a deal with the City of Ventura to build the badly needed housing.

The $69 million project is near Telephone Road, off of Cosmos Drive. Years ago, the city offered the 10 acres of land to the state for veterans housing, but when the state didn’t use it, the city got it back to do its own project.

The U.S. Vets non-profit decided to help. Stephen Peck is President, and CEO of U.S. Vets.

"U.S. Vets has been trying to come to Ventura for many years," said Peck. "I learned that the state was going to pass this land back to the city five years ago...and said we wanted to be involved here."

U.S. Vets is a nearly three-decade old non-profit which helps struggling veterans around the country with everything from housing to social services.

That’s how A Community of Friends became involved in the project. U.S. Vets partnered with the Los Angeles County non-profit, which has built a number of affordable housing projects in L.A. and Orange Counties, but never in Ventura County.

They bid on a project for the city, and were selected by the city to do it.

The project will include housing, as well as comprehensive onsite support services such as mental health services. The apartments will be in 11 buildings on different streets on the ten acre site, rather than just one massive building. The idea is to create a community.

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Image courtesy "A Community Of Friends" organization.
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An artist's rendering of part of the new "Ventura Springs" veterans community being built in Ventura.

It will also have the synergy of being just around the corner from the state veterans home in Ventura.

Gallo says the hardest part was lining up all the financing for the $69 million project. They received a $40 million federal grant, and $9 million from a state bond measure. The City of Ventura helped with $1 million, as well as deferring $2 million in development fees.

Ventura Mayor Sofia Rubalcava says this is the result of years of work by many people. "It's definitely exciting for our community," said the mayor.

Steven Peck, with the U.S. Vets organization, says it’s exciting to see the bulldozers in action. He's a former Marine.

"It's directly from my service in the Marines. We take care of each other, and watch each other's backs," said Peck. "We have duty to help them."

Construction is expected to take until around the end of 2023, with plans calling for people to be able to start moving into the complex in early 2024.