The Homeless Prevention Fund helped to move the homeless out of the river bottom and into housing.
By Jill Forman
Over 20,000 individuals in the City of Ventura have household incomes that leave no room for emergencies. One-time financial difficulties such as a car repair, accident, illness or job cutback can result in the loss of housing even for employed families; nearly half the homeless each year have never been in this situation before. Sometimes, all they need is assistance to get them through this temporary crisis, and they can keep their homes – 50% of homelessness can be prevented.
On December 16, the Homeless Prevention Fund helped its 1000th individual to remain housed. Since 2007, the Fund has assisted 381 households with 1004 people. 50 households were aided in 2015: 80 adults and 50 children.
When a family loses its housing, the financial and human costs are astronomical. Living on the streets or in substandard housing is detrimental to physical and mental health. This puts increased demands on local hospitals, law enforcement, and emergency services. And, it is more difficult and costly to get back into a home: rent needs to be paid up front, security deposits, and so on. It has been estimated that up to $20,000 in services can be needed before a family is restored to housing.
In contrast, the Fund’s average cost to help with a one-time rental assistance is $500 per household, or $192 per person. A case manager works with the recipients to ensure that a household budget is in place that will keep their housing costs paid for the future. Over 90% of the families are still in their homes at follow-up nine months later.
The Fund has always been completely funded by donations from individuals and religious institutions. There are no administrative costs; case managers from local social service agencies can use it as another tool in their efforts. All the others involved are community volunteers. 100% of all donations goes directly into the Fund, preventing homelessness in the city of Ventura.
In 2003, the Fund incorporated and formed its own 501(c)-3. A board of local supporters and businesspeople came together to take the organization to a new level of independence and effectiveness.
The Fund has been recognized by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness as one of eight innovative programs nationwide, achieving results in preventing homelessness.
To reach the Fund, donate or for further information, visit Venturahomelessprevention.org or contact Sue Brinkmeyer at 626-0363.