Place Matters: Health, Housing and Community Development Summit

By Sheryl Hamlin

Hosted by the Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) and sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (FRBSF), the City of San Buenaventura, the Ventura County Housing Trust Fund and the Ventura County Public Health Agency, the summit featured professionals in the three disciplines – health, housing and community development – giving notable interconnections between the three. Eighty-eight people pre-registered.

Supervisor Kathy Long

Supervisor Kathy Long opened the summit saying that no one should be denied the opportunity for long life due to cultural or social conditions. She posed the question: how do we move forward advancing healthy and vibrant communities?

She cited a 2016 California Study where Ventura County ranked 8th out of 57 counties in length of life and 13 out of 57 in quality of life. The entire study may be viewed here. In terms of futures, however, Ventura dropped to 27th due to transportation issues and housing costs.

Dr. David J. Erickson


Dr. David J. Erickson

Dr. David J. Erickson from the San Francisco Federal Reserve’s Center for Community Development Investments visited Ventura County in 2015, as a guest speaker for the Farm Worker Housing Summit. He has been touring the country as part of the collaboration between the Federal Reserve and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to bring the health sector together with community development. His book “The Housing Policy Revolution” was published in 2009 and is a highly rated on Amazon. Dr. Erickson edited a related publication “What Works for America’s Communities” which is available here. The essay “Connecting the Dots between Education, Health and Opportunity” is thematic for the Place Matters Summit. Read his full biography here.

Dr. Erickson does not mince words saying the “status quo is stupid and expensive”. We spend trillions on health care with weak results. Professionals are now realizing that one’s place can be a social deterrent to health. The concept of Urban Renewal, a top down, 1950’s Washington based program, provided disastrous results, although HUD which was formed in 1955 recognized the “knotty problems of stress”. Decentralizing and moving to the Community Oriented Primary Care model are bringing back the holistic visions of the 1960’s at a local level through a host of agencies: Community Development Corporation, Community Development Foundations, Affordable Housing Development, Community Reinvestment Act, Foundations and Impact Investors, all of which have local agencies in an effort to decentralize and improve delivery. The total of this effort is about $200 billion per year, he said.

A new business model is evolving where providers are paid to keep people healthy. For example, San Francisco built homeless housing which reduced usage of San Francisco General Hospital by the homeless population because health improved.The Health Futures Fund is funding housing on top of clinics and United Health Care is paying for Health Care workers in housing. This is all part of the pro-active approach to improving health and thus the community itself. This part of the Build Healthy Places initiative.

Rigoberto Vargas

Rigoberto Vargas, Director of Public Health, Ventura County Health Care Agency, spoke on the “Social Determinants of Health in Ventura County”. Saying that the population would grow to one million in 2060 with the ratio of White to Latinos inverting during this period, where the modal category now is ‘White’ but by 2060 it will be ‘Latino’. Looking at coroner’s records, six out of ten deaths in Ventura County are due to chronic disease: heart, respiratory, cancer, cirrhosis, diabetes). Housing, education, poverty, social setting and environment are factors in disease.

Across the county, wide disparities exist between education and poverty. In many Ventura cities, the high school graduation rate is greater than 80%, but in Santa Paula, Fillmore and Oxnard, it is in the low 60’s. While Fillmore and Santa Paula record a mere 10% with BA degrees, Camarillo reports greater than 40%. There are various measures of poverty used: Official Poverty Measurement (OPM), Supplemental Poverty Measurement (SPM), California Poverty Measurement and the Real Cost Measure (RCM). Each measure includes more factors. Based on the OPM, 11% of Ventura County is in poverty, 20% using the CPM and 25% using the RCM, which is more realistic, he said, because the RCM uses transportation and housing. Breaking RCM down demographically, the RCM for California shows 50% of the Latino population in poverty.

How do we provide “Health Equity” to achieve full health potential? He explained the difference between “equity” and “equal” saying that some people need an extra boost to achieve success. He suggested visiting the site “Health Matters in Ventura County”, where the demographic data is available on-line for personal study. There is a profile for each major city in Ventura County.

Shamus Roller

Based in Sacramento, Shamus Roller started his career understanding homelessness. He said that based on coroner data in Sacramento County, homeless were 20 years younger than the general population at death and usually died violently. Now he runs Housing California, an agency that lobbies on behalf of its members. He is a known expert in housing financing.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped to some degree with the health of this population. He cited three cases: the Folsom Prison psychiatric ward, the LA Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool and the Mercy Housing Mission Creek in San Francisco, which moved people away from San Francisco General. The latter two examples saved $32,000 per person annually and $29,000 per person annually respectively by providing housing.

Why is real estate so expensive in California? He says the following:

  • Real estate speculation rewarded with mortgage deductions benefitting upper incomes and realtors.
  • Impact fees were raised by cities to offset losses from Proposition 13.
  • High demand because California is popular.
  • CEQA and other regulations.

Bond funds are drying up, he said but there is talk of a $! Billion “one-time” transfer from the General Fund for housing. (Note, to put this in perspective, LA says it needs $150 million annually on top of the $1 billion the city spends now.)

He also cited notable legislation: AB2502, AB2817, AB2140 and AB2081.

  • AB2502 strengthens “inclusionary housing” zoning.
  • AB2817 increases tax allocation for low income housing
  • AB2140 (Hernandez) establishes credits for low income housing and farm worker housing assistance
  • AB2031 speeds up process to build affordable housing

The California Senate has introduced the “Bringing Families Home” bill to tackle homeless statewide. This multi-billion dollar bipartisan initiative is discussed here. The key is empowering local governments to tailor local solutions.

He also cited AB2, the son of Redevelopment, recently signed by Governor Brown. A previous article about this topic appeared here.

Panel: Stan Mantooth, Barry Zimmerman and Denise Wise

Moderator: Linda Braunschweiger

While the speakers from the first part of the agenda spoke about broad, national issues and shared some specific success stories, the panel’s goal was to narrow the focus to Ventura County answering various questions about the relationships between health and community.

Moderator Linda Braunschweiger, Ventura County Housing Trust Fund, opened with a statement from the CEO of Time Warner suggesting business and non-profits work together.

Denise Wise, CEO Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura, described their sphere of influence, which includes about 400 units of public housing and 1400 voucher properties. There is also a stock of agency owned and managed housing. There is a waiting list for all services. She mentioned the new 39 unit project Castillo del Sol which was built on an irregular parcel on Main Street in Ventura to house homeless, mentally ill and developmentally disabled. Five units are reserved for homeless.



Barry Zimmerman, Director Ventura County Human Services Agency, said that the Affordable Care Act has brought more people into health care programs. In three years, the number covered has risen to 221,000 from 114,000. The limit for medical eligibility is $33,000 for a family of four at the State level and $24,300 for a family of four at the Federal level. 20% of the county is eligible. He talked about the five pillars: family stability, dependent care, education, well being (physical and mental) and financial management. He pointed out that communities are generational, often passing habits from one generation to the next.

Stan Mantooth, Superintendent Ventura County Office of Education, noted that there are 140,000 students in K-12 education programs throughout Ventura County, which equates to about 15 to 20% of the population. Common Core has been rebranded and is focused on creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. Every student is touched and attended to in class. He also described the P20 Council for ages 0 to 3 when 80% of the brain is developed.

Health issues are a big factor. Mr. Mantooth said students cannot learn in suboptimal living conditions, who arrive hungry or with tooth aches. They cannot study in overcrowded housing situations. All of this leads to chronic absenteeism. Ms. Wise talked to transitioning homeless families to self-sufficiency. They foster community gardens where residents trade or barter their growth. And they have invested in a Food Truck for entrepreneurial residents who have been attempting home catering businesses.

Asked about measurement of success, Mr. Zimmerman said they measure individuals not groups or classes. They are looking at integrated services and not just housing. Housing vouchers are offered mostly in poor neighborhoods, so this must change.

Other panel discussion questions included “the senior tsunami”, local control, society versus government, inclusionary housing, transportation, political will, and healthy eating,

The audience shared experiences and asked questions.

  • One attendee mentioned SB1052 several times.
  • How to bring more jobs to the county?
  • Career technical development; Naval base needs engineers.
  • Education equity particularly in Santa Paula, Oxnard and Fillmore.
  • Local Control Funding formula for education and its potential effects.
  • Apprenticeships that pay a living wage.
  • ACE – Architecture, Construction and Engineering – charter school at Camarillo Airport.
  • Ventura County Planning Department is updating the General Plan. What are policies for planning purposes resulting from this session?
  • School impact fees don’t pay for school, thus the need for bond measures.
  • Code enforcement of substandard rental properties and alternatives where landlords pay fees to city for repairs.
  • Ventura County Housing Authority is looking for a permanent source of funding similar to that proposed by the Ventura County Transit Commission (VCTC) for transit.
  • Leilani Barnett from the San Francisco Fed suggested a steering committee to identify cross-section collaboration.
  • Ventura County Planning is looking for stakeholders to partner in farm worker housing. The Housing Element also looks to correct long standing conflicts in senior housing.
  • Healthy eating, Abundant Table in Santa Paula, introduces locally grown food in schools.
  • County HomeShare for Seniors with branch into students, a suggestion.
  • San Buenaventura Housing Authority is helping with JRAP grants, Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program, where records of students involved in crime are expunged for housing purposes.
  • Undocumented workers not eligible for funds; six people in one bedroom home; huge issue in Ventura County.
  • Faith based “Circle of Protection”
  • Incentivize private sector to improve quality of substandard housing.

It was noted that both Kaiser and Dignity Health were invited to the summit, but were not represented.

Dr. Erickson closed citing the high stakes involved and that the groups should keep the momentum going. He said that there is a $10 billion Medicare Innovation fund looking for success stories to emulate.

For more information, please contact [email protected] or at (805) 677-5231.

A previous financial summit hosted by the Federal Reserve geared to working people with no assets was reviewed here.


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One Response to Place Matters: Health, Housing and Community Development Summit

  1. LINDA BRAUNSCHWEIGER March 22, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you for thorough review of the Place Matters Summit. I would like to clarify that it is the Ventura County Housing Trust Fund, not the “Ventura County Housing Authority”, who is working on locating a dedicated source for the funding for more affordable housing in Ventura County.


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