Community Development Partners and Mercy House to develop former Vagabond Inn Motel into permanent supportive housing
October 3, 2023
Former motel, which has been operating as a temporary housing facility, will transition to a place that residents can finally call home
OXNARD, Calif., Oct. 3, 2023 – Seventy or more people who have been sleeping outdoors or in temporary housing will move into permanent, supportive housing in a former short-term hotel on North Oxnard Boulevard, thanks to the focused efforts of a team of public, private and non-profit organizations. The 70 permanent units — 69 private studios and a manager’s unit — are scheduled to open as the Casa Aliento apartments in the fall of 2024.
The former Vagabond Inn Motel has been operating as a shelter, providing temporary housing for formerly homeless people, since it was taken over in December 2020 by Mercy House under California’s Project Homekey. Current residents will be relocated within the site as the units are renovated, and some of the current residents will move into the permanent housing when it is ready.
The City of Oxnard, the County of Ventura, the state of California and co-developers Community Development Partners and Mercy House closed financing on the project in late September, paving the way to complete the conversion of the former motel. The California Statewide Communities Development Authority has issued more than $20 million in tax-exempt, multifamily, affordable housing bonds to finance the conversion.
Casa Aliento will blend independent housing with an array of wrap-around services provided by Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH) and Mercy House. All of the units will be rent restricted for extremely low-income individuals and those experiencing homelessness.
Community Development Partners and Mercy House have teamed to provide housing and services on more than 10 other projects around the region, including Oxnard’s Casa de Carmen located on 2nd and B in the City of Oxnard.
“We have done multiple successful projects with CDP; they’re a fantastic partner with us,” said Larry Haynes, the chief executive officer of Mercy House. “And so of course, they were the organization that we requested come along this journey with us.”
The process of converting hotel rooms into long-term housing for people experiencing homelessness began with the opportunities afforded by California’s Project Homekey, whose first round of grants has helped develop almost 6,000 units at more than 90 locations around the state. Project Homekey has leveraged contributions from the California Department of Housing & Community Development, Ventura County and the City of Oxnard to fund the redevelopment of Casa Aliento, intended to address homelessness in the city.
“We’re grateful for the ongoing partnership with Mercy House and Community Development Partners to implement real solutions in addressing the homeless crisis,” said Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez. “Building more homes, and providing services to keep people housed, is a key component for combatting homelessness.”
“I’m pleased to see the collective effort of partners across our community who have brought this project forward with nearly $22 million of state and federal resources,” said Ventura County Supervisor Vianey Lopez. “As the County’s first Homekey project responding to persons experiencing homelessness at the height of the pandemic, Casa Aliento is evidence of our commitment and recognition of the importance of providing housing as quickly as possible, and that access to onsite mental health and other supportive services is also needed to successfully prevent chronic homelessness.”
Casa Aliento is an illustration of the Housing First model of addressing homelessness. The model “sees housing as a tool to help people recover, not a reward for recovery,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Culver City, who sponsored SB 1380, which created the state’s housing-first principles in 2016. “This model connects homeless people to permanent housing as quickly as possible by removing barriers that arise when housing is made contingent on participation in programs such as drug and alcohol treatment.”
“What makes this project different for me is that we’re going from temporary, supportive housing and we’re bringing 70 permanent, supportive housing units to the site,” said Angela Heyward, CDP’s director of development for the region. It fits Community Development Partners’ belief that having a stable place to live is the first and most essential need for people to stabilize their lives and begin to flourish.
At Casa Aliento, renovation of the 69 studios and one manager’s unit will include:
- Kitchens installed in every unit
- An upgraded heating and ventilation system
- Updated electrical systems
- Renovated bathrooms, flooring and drywall
- Attractive common areas, including a garden, smoking area, dog run and public art
Residents in 34 of the units will be placed under California Housing and Community Development Department’s No Place Like Home program, which offers permanent supportive housing for persons who are receiving mental health services and are experiencing homelessness, chronic homelessness, or at risk of chronic homelessness.
Casa Aliento is also participating in Ventura County’s Coordinated Entry System, which allows for referrals from different agencies and different circumstances, while ensuring that applicants have passed background checks and comply with the program’s requirements.
In addition to an on-site, around-the-clock property manager, Casa Aliento will also accommodate several case managers and treatment specialists who will work with residents on day-to-day issues, from securing medication to assisting in employment matters.
“We’re here to help,” said CDP’s Heyward. “We’re here to get residents the support they need, which is why we have such a high rate of success.”
Added Mercy House’s Haynes: “These are human beings. We want them to live in a sense of peace and a sense of security and a sense of dignity.”
As Ventura County’s most populous city, Oxnard is home to more than 200,000 community members that celebrate the city’s vibrant multicultural heritage. Since its incorporation in 1903, Oxnard has operated as a full-service city. The local government is responsible for providing many services necessary to daily life, ranging from public safety, trash, water and sewer, to planning and building, parks, libraries, youth and senior recreation programs, housing authority, and maintaining the city’s streets, sidewalks, and public parks.
Ventura County is home to more than 832,000 people and more than 274,000 households. County supervisors follow a mission to provide superior public service and support so that all residents have the opportunity to improve their quality of life while enjoying the benefits of a safe, healthy, and vibrant community. The county provides its residents with a wide range of services, including caring for the homeless, providing health care, assisting veterans and emergency preparedness. It oversees the Channel Islands Harbor, numerous parks, the sheriff’s department and other services.
Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH) envisions a community where the county’s diverse residents are respected and empowered so those affected by mental health and substance use can heal, thrive, and lead healthy, engaged lives. VCBH promotes wellness through a whole-person care approach where clients and families engage with appropriate, accessible, timely, culturally sensitive, and collaborative behavioral health services.
For more than 30 years, Mercy House has provided shelter, housing and supportive services, including comprehensive resident services to families, individuals, homeless, chronically homeless, and disabled individuals. Serving California and Arizona, its mission is to be a leader in ending homelessness by providing a blend of services and housing with dignity.
Founded in 2011, Community Development Partners develops and operates sustainable, life-enhancing affordable housing with a focus on long-term community engagement and innovative design. CDP creates vibrant affordable housing communities that incorporate art, public parks, gardens, fresh food, and cultural and social programming. Today, CDP has successfully built or preserved 44 unique projects comprising over 3,500 units throughout Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.
More information about the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Homekey program and the No Place Like Home program