An afternoon of giving

VHP Board Treasurer, Dave Schmutte; Webmaster and Vice President, John Sanders Jones; Secretary, Debora Schreiber; Ventura Social Services Task Force Chair Judy Alexandre; Client Outreach officer, Adele Fergusson, and President and Board Chair, Sue Brinkmeyer.

Matt LaVere

On February 24, the Ventura Homeless Prevention (VHP) held an afternoon at an “Keeping People Housed:That’s Amore” and auction to raise rental assistance funds for Ventura Homeless Prevention.

It included outstanding Italian food, drinks, entertainment and presentations. It was held in the hall at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura at 5654 Ralston.

The Ventura Homeless Prevention is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that prevents homelessness in the City of Ventura by keeping people in their homes.

Every penny donated goes directly to pay rent for households who have been stably housed but are suddenly unable to meet the current month’s rent because of a one-time event like a car repair, medical bill, or loss of pay due to illness or temporary lay off.

On average they have prevented homelessness for one household per week since they began their work in 2007 — over 1,300 people so far, 40% of them children.

Sue Brinkmeyer

VHP is an all-volunteer organization operating in donated space, and the Board pays for the few administrative costs, so every penny donated or granted goes directly to pay rent and keep people housed.

Sue Brinkmeyer, President and Board Chair of VHP stated “Ventura Homeless Prevention helps residents of the City of Ventura avoid the double traumas of eviction and homelessness by sending a check for part or all of their rent to their landlord when a temporary loss of income or a major expense leaves them teetering on the brink, and they’ll be able to resume paying their own rent after this one-time assistance.”

“Thanks to the generosity of many local houses of faith and individuals, this non-profit is able to help an average of 6-7 families a month.  And thanks, in part, to the additional expertise provided by case managers at Project Understanding or the Salvation Army, over 90% of the people assisted are still housed one-year later.  Ventura Homeless Prevention can help any Ventura resident, without restriction due to income, immigration status, or type of residence, and it costs, on average, just $500 per person or $1,200 per household to keep people housed.  Both donations and referrals are welcome. More information is available on the website”

Leona Rollins Ventura Housing Services Manager continued “The Ventura Homeless Prevention Fund has been doing amazing work in our community since 2007. By providing one-time financial assistance, the Ventura Homeless Prevention Fund can assist individuals and families in remaining in their homes, avoiding eviction and the possibility of homelessness. There are currently 644 individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the community and we need to continue to work together to see that number decrease, not increase. With more than 60% of renters in the City being “rent burdened” meaning that they are paying more than 30% of their income towards their housing costs, they are unable to save for a rainy day. Without an emergency fund, individuals and families will find themselves unable to pay their rent and facing threats of eviction when that rainy day arrives. This is why it is important for us to continue to support programs like the Ventura Homeless Prevention Fund.”

Matt LaVere, Supervisor, Ventura County Board of Supervisors explained “Despite the hard work of so many wonderful, dedicated people, we still have 2,500 unhoused individuals in Ventura County. But what this figure does not show is that there are over 14,000 individuals teetering on the edge of homelessness. These are people who are one missed paycheck, one lost job, one car repair, one hospital bill, one “bad break” in life from ending up on the streets. It is exponentially easier and more cost-effective to address homelessness if we can prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. And that is why the work being done by the Ventura Homeless Prevention Fund is so critically important. Their efforts to keep people housed and connect them with necessary services truly changes the direction of people’s lives.”

Musical entertainment was provided by Sus Corez on guitar and Artie Perez on accordion with Sue Brinkmeyer singing along. Presentations were made by Gabrielle White, Talia le Duff and Jeremy Beaumont.

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