Oxnard Homeless Programs Status- Ormond Beach Again Overrun; Commission Advocates $34 million “Navigation Center”/Homeless Shelter and More

By Lang Martinez & George Miller

  • Ormond Beach/Halaco again being overrun by squatters
  • Homeless Commission votes to approve $34 million “navigation center” to shelter, service, up to 110 homeless
  • Community Action center still closed- solution sought
  • Most “at -risk” county homeless still housed in hotels

Oxnard and many other jurisdictions have long struggled with seemingly intractable homeless problems. While Oxnard’s homeless constitute only .0026, or a little over two-tenths of a percent of the population, the problem accounts for way more than its share of misery, expense, controversy and problems.

For years, homeless people have lived quite illegally on public and private land in the Ormond Beach area, one of Oxnard’s most remote sections, a scenic natural wonderland. Environmental damage has been significant. Adjacent Port Hueneme community residents are livid about the situation. After major pressure from the public, the area has been cleaned or partially cleaned of squatters (can’t call them truly “homeless” if they’re living there) multiple times over the last few years. Each campaign has cost tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and resources by multiple departments, such as the City Manager, City Attorney, Police, Housing, Code Enforcement, Fire and Environmental Services (Public Works) Departments, as well as Ventura County Health Services and service provider partners.

The area is difficult to access, making patrolling, servicing, evicting and cleanup difficult, time consuming and expensive. Once again up to 100 people may be living in the Halaco toxic Superfund site and other nearby areas.

 

In his brief recap of the current Ormond Beach situation, homeless advocate Lang Martinez points out that the Halaco toxic waste Superfund site is again occupied, that anti-camping ordinance 2166 sometimes conflicts with a court ruling that prevents moving campers out if they have nowhere else to go and also remarks that County health resources haven’t been regularly deployed here as promised, based on what was related to him by area squatters. He said multiple summons have been issued to some squatters, with little effect.

Oxnard Police Commander Kevin Baysinger told CJ Publisher George Miller that patrols and enforcement continue in the Ormond Beach area. He said that Halaco is a difficult case, as it is a toxic Superfund site, privately owned and there is no “agency agreement” with the owners to facilitate enforcement activities. He says that they work in conjunction with Code Enforcement, Housing Dept., social services providers and the Environmental Division (removes possessions of unresponsive parties and cleans up).

When Miller asked him what removal options are and where to send displaced people, he said that is the Housing Dept’s jurisdiction, but the shelter and county-leased hotels first come to mind. When asked if there was enough space in those to accommodate all the homeless in the Ormond Beach area, he said no and “if I had an answer….”  (fill in the blanks).

 

Typical Ormond Beach squatter encampments, 5-28-20

 

On the canal near Halaco toxic Superfund site, Ormond Beach, Oxnard area. 

 

Homeless Commission Advocates $34 million “Navigation Center”/Homeless Shelter

On May 25, the Oxnard Homeless Commission voted its approval to send to the Council  a proposal to build a $34 million “Navigation Center” to house homeless and to provide various support services to those and more. Included would be:

  • 110 bed mixed use residential shelter complex
  • 40 bed recuperation center
  • 54 bed revenue-generating supportive low income apartments

Total capacity- 204 clients, plus office accommodations for support staff.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend continuing the navigation center (currently the old K Street Armory building) operating contact with Mercy House. However, Commission Chair Peggy Rivera was the sole dissenting vote against also taking the $34 million proposed new downtown Oxnard  navigation shelter build to council for approval. She told CJ Publisher George Miller that “the city does not need a bright, shiny new $34 million dollar navigation center”, that it is too much, that there are much cheaper ways to meet the needs, that the money may not even be available anyway and that funds available should instead be used on programs to help the homeless improve. Ms. Rivera believes that it is too soon for the council to vote on this before the community voice is better heard via the outreach process.

She advocates building out Kingdom Center- Gabriel House on Rose Ave instead. The Center is currently used as a women’s shelter.

Rivera wrapped up by saying she wants an overall homeless program that really works, where people could enter the program and come out transformed and improved-  changed people, to better deal with life.

Kingdom Center/Gabriel House. Photo: George Miller/CitizensJournal.us

We don’t know when the council will take up the commission recommendations.

Meeting agenda and video

Meeting invitation

From: “Ramirez, Emilio” <[email protected]>
Date: May 25, 2020 at 4:37:08 PM PDT
To: (Oxnard Homeless Commissioners)
Subject: Homeless Update

Good Afternoon Commissioners,

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be delivering an update on homeless activities to the Housing and Economic Development Committee at 4 pm at City Council chambers. You are invited.

Thank you

Emilio Ramirez
Housing Department
435 South D Street
Oxnard, CA 93030
(805) 385-8096

 

Community Action center- still closed- no plan

Community Action’s center off 5th street, at 621 Richmond Ave, Oxnard, east of downtown, provided  a host of services to the homeless, though its own programs and hosting the County “One Stop” program. It appeared to be rather cost-effective, but shut down a couple of months ago when they ran out of funds. As near as we have been able to determine, they did not file the proper paperwork for the proper grants. As far as we know, that still hasn’t been done and proposed budgets are not available. Homeless Commission Chair Peggy Rivera told us that they initially said they needed $80,000, but that it has now morphed into $180,000. Lang Martinez said he was looking into a way to do a lower budget bare bones reopening, using more volunteers, with stripped down services. He has approached a number of officials in the city, county and even Congress. So far, no results.

Rivera told us that there are seven One Stop facilities in Ventura, which has fewer homeless, but NONE remaining in Oxnard.

Local homeless who utilized Community Action were very disappointed about the closing and most could not find similar services elsewhere, which included showers, a place to rest, internet access, cell phone charging, services referral, personal document replacement, applying for govt. assistance, mail drop and more.

Rivera also said that a reopening didn’t look very likely at this time, but that alternatives were under consideration, including the Ventura County Rescue Mission.

Suzanne West of the Ventura County Rescue Mission confirmed what Peggy Rivera and Lang Martinez had told CJ Publisher George Miller about the possibility of the Mission taking up the slack. She thought it was premature to say much, but acknowledged that they have been involved in productive discussions with Ventura County Health Services. The mission can accommodate over 100 residents in various stages of recovery and re-integration into society. They also feed hundreds every week. They are self-financing. and run a very impressive operation, from what I have seen in multiple visits and discussions with management.

 

Most “at -risk” county homeless still housed in hotels

You may recall one of our articles a while back that mentioned the county leased four hotels to house and feed the most “at-risk” homeless, funded by a state grant- code-named “Project Room Key.” Our understanding is that the facilities are housing about 355 people and that the lease terms were 60-90 days. That time is rapidly coming to a close. We are informed by multiple knowledgeable third parties that a longer-term solution is being sought, but we cannot disclose any more at this time.

 

Homeless woman was in treatment, put back on the street, raped, then “saved”

A local homeless women also a cancer patient was allegedly raped by a unknown individual over by the Oxnard Transportation Center. She was transported to Ventura County Medical Center for evaluation and then transported to America Health Foundation in Ventura and housed for seven days. Because she is homeless and in the HMIS, she is connected to Whole Person Care and has a case management “Case Worker” .

We have been told that her caseworker has made promises of her being housed because of her cancer. We have also been told that she connected with her caseworker again concerning a promise of being housed. Instead she was released with no place to go but back to the streets of Oxnard. It only took three days before she was physically assaulted again. Lang Martinez and Rick Castaniero immediately contacted Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez who instantly arranged for her to be housed and safe at the K Street shelter. We understand that her caseworker hasn’t designated anyone to counsel her following this traumatic assault.

 

Some previous articles/links:

Local Newswriter on John & Ken Show re: Ormond Beach Homeless Encampments

Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez on Homeless Program

Oxnard Police Cleaning Out Squatter Encampments at Ormond Beach

MORE

 


Lang Martinez is an Oxnard homeless advocate; George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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4 Responses to Oxnard Homeless Programs Status- Ormond Beach Again Overrun; Commission Advocates $34 million “Navigation Center”/Homeless Shelter and More

  1. Sheryl Hamlin July 2, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Oxnard should study history. Large high rises of homeless have not been successful.

    San Francisco, Geneva Towers…
    https://www.eichlernetwork.com/blog/dave-weinstein/biggest-eichler-teardown-ever

    Chicago, Cabrini-Greens…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabrini%E2%80%93Green_Homes

    The comments from citizens in this article make much more sense and would provide smaller, safer, less industrial housing.

    Reply
  2. Beth Parker June 4, 2020 at 8:32 am

    The old Oxnard High School has the space and capacity to house all of Oxnard’s Homeless in bridge housing, space for service providers, medical personnel, and permanent housing.

    It could easily be converted to a beautiful mixed use project close to everything people need.

    In fact there are many publicly owned properties on that whole block could be converted and would greatly improve lives in Oxnard.

    Solutions are all around you! Please use limited funding wisely.

    Reply
  3. Diann yakle May 30, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Why don’t we refurbish an old existing building that could House more than 100 people. We need to make that 34 million dollars be more than 100 people. We have plenty of huge buildings that can be redone. Might want to see what other states are doing to make that money go to where it is better used. We need to get a whole lot more than 100 beds to help our homeless problem here. We have shelters here and people cannot get those services unless they meet certain requirements. Or they are full. 100 beds is not enough for that kind of money that they have. Something is wrong with this picture homeless don’t need a fancy building they need a safe place to sleep eat and shower. We all will be better off if we get the right services.

    Reply
  4. P W Robinson May 30, 2020 at 7:45 am

    “squatter” “vagrant”

    Just two of several hateful terms that we will no longer accept. Big changes coming in the language on our topic, much of it directly due to the hate-work of Oxnard.

    And giving $35,000,000 to build a 110 bed shelter to a county that has proven unable to sustain any hint of compassion toward us seems counter-intuitive at the least. Why locals don’t care about how their money is distributed remains baffling. I was lucky enough to experience the bumbling, amateurish ‘presentation’ the city produced for the money pitch meeting. No one at the meeting thought this plan was a good idea, but here it comes anyway. Huh.

    Reply

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