Ventura County is located just northwest of Los Angeles County and has 43 miles of Pacific coastline. Most of its population and economic activity is in the southern part of the county. The northern portion is mountainous and contains a forest reserve, which encompasses 46 percent of the county's area and provides diverse recreational opportunities. Nearly 700,000 residents live in Ventura County's 1,843 square miles.
Ventura County seeks to respond to the needs of its low-income citizens who are enduring a long-term recession and the aftermath of a major earthquake. In the first year of the Consolidated Plan, the Ventura County Entitlement Area will receive $3.1 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funds. Ventura County will receive $1.1 million in HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) program funds and $101,000 in Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program funds. Funds will be used for a wide variety of community development and improvement projects and services as well as housing development and rehabilitation.
City staff from Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, and San Buenaventura (known as Ventura) met with county staff in October 1994 and began to prepare the plan, with the county serving as the lead agency. These 6 cities comprise a HOME Consortium for the purposes of administering the Federal HOME program. The city of Ventura is a separate entity for the purposes of administering the CDBG program.
A public hearing involving all 10 county cities and the county, advertised by radio and in a flyer sent to more than 120 groups, was held in November 1994. Two other hearings were held prior to drafting the plan. After the draft plan was distributed, a final public hearing was held in May 1995.
After rapid population growth during the 1970s and 1980s, Ventura County now expects little net change from migration and a moderate increase from births. Older non-Hispanic white households are declining in number because of deaths and out-migration.
About 66 percent of the county's residents are white (non-Hispanic); 25 percent are Hispanic; and 5 percent are Asian American or Pacific Islander. Since 1980 the white non-Hispanic population has decreased, while the Hispanic and Asian American populations have increased.
Three cities in the center of the county -- Fillmore, Santa Paula, and Oxnard -- have populations that are mostly Hispanic. In other cities the Hispanic population ranges between 10 and 30 percent. The cities at the northern and southern ends of the county -- Ojai, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks -- have populations that are about 80 percent white.
The county's median family income (MFI) is $45,612. The cities with the lowest median incomes are Santa Paula, Fillmore, Ojai, and Port Hueneme. Over 45 percent of the households in Fillmore, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, and Santa Paula have incomes below $25,000. These cities also have the lowest proportions of high-income households. Furthermore, Fillmore and Santa Paula show higher poverty among youth and seniors than other parts of the county, while Ojai shows greater poverty among seniors.
Families are considered to be very low-income if they earn 0-50 percent of the area's MFI. In Ventura County, 21 percent of all families fall into this category. However, 36 percent of Hispanic families are very low-income, versus only 18 percent of non-Hispanic white families and 15 percent of Asian American or Pacific Islander families.
A 1994 county report described the county's economy as being "in the weakest condition of the last 30 years." Ventura County has seen a substantial decrease in manufacturing jobs, which are the best-paying private sector jobs in the area. Overall employment is not expected to decrease, unless either of the two military bases in the county closes. Little new development is expected because of a surplus of commercial space and because of growth restrictions, especially along the coast.
The epicenter of the Northridge earthquake of 1994 was near the boundary of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Property damage in Ventura County was estimated at nearly $1 billion dollars. Although rebuilding will temporarily increase employment and spending, the majority of the damage was not covered by insurance or government aid.
The Consolidated Plan characterizes the six cities and surrounding areas as follows:
The monthly median rent in Ventura County is $695, which is 24 percent higher than the State median rent and almost 50 percent higher than the national median. Median rents in the cities vary from $552 in Santa Paula to $866 in Moorpark.
At the time of the 1990 census, the median value of an owner-occupied unit was $245,300. However, Southern California real estate prices are declining, and Ventura County has been hardest hit, with values declining at a rate of 17.4 percent during the past 3 years. Slightly more than two-thirds of all housing in the county and in the entitlement area is owner-occupied.
Incidence of overcrowding varies throughout the county. The overall rate of overcrowding is 10.5 percent, but it reaches as high as 22.8 percent in Fillmore.
Ten percent of all rental units and 3 percent of all owner-occupied units need rehabilitation.
Each city's housing issues are as follows:
A recent study of the Los Angeles region found that the highest proportion of households who pay more than half of their income for housing costs are extremely low-income households, earning 0-30 percent of MFI. Hispanic and African-American households have the highest representation in this group.
Housing problems are defined as overcrowded conditions, housing units with certain physical deficiencies, or cost burdens (spending more than 30 percent of gross income for housing expenses). The study found that 60 percent of all renters had housing problems, versus 36 percent of all homeowners.
In the county, 19 percent of renters spend more than 50 percent of their income for housing, versus 10 percent of homeowners. Among very low-income households (0-50 percent of MFI), 45 percent of renters and 35 percent of homeowners experience cost burdens. This situation is expected to worsen for both homeowners and renters.
Overcrowding is apparent and increasing in several areas, especially Fillmore, Port Hueneme, and Santa Paula. Among large family renters, regardless of income, 63 percent experience overcrowding.
Nearly 50 percent of all elderly renters experience a cost burden greater than 50 percent of their gross income, while only 10 percent of all elderly homeowners experience such a high cost burden.
During the public hearings, various nonprofit groups suggested steps to increase affordable housing, including expanding zoning options for affordable housing, providing housing for farmworkers and large families, and proactively assisting developers of low-income housing.
A count of the homeless indicated that there are 2,000 to 4,000 homeless people in the county at any time, mostly in the urban areas. Between 1990 and 1993, the caseloads for United Way agencies increased by 35 percent. Although the needs are highest in Fillmore, Port Hueneme, Oxnard, and Santa Paula, they exist in every city. A 1994 profile of county services found that 7 percent of the population is threatened with homelessness.
After the floods of January 1995, homeless people were forbidden to camp in the riverbeds of the Ventura and Santa Clara Rivers. A consortium of service providers is collaborating to meet the needs of the homeless people who visit a new assistance center. Other programs provide food and drop-in services during the day. Health and employment services are needed, but not available. Emergency cold weather shelter, which has been available in previous years, may not be available after 1997.
Generally, serious service shortages exist, and the current services are not coordinated to satisfy long-term homeless needs. The Ventura County Homeless and Housing Coalition has outlined a strategy to meet these needs using interagency cooperation at a central location.
An estimated 20-30 percent of the homeless are mentally ill. Limited services are available, and a 30-bed single-room occupancy facility is being constructed. Another estimated 8-20 percent of the homeless are substance abusers. Housing for persons entering recovery is especially needed. Women with substance abuse problems, particularly those with children, are a priority for assistance.
Two shelters within the county provide for women who are victims of domestic violence. However, more women are being turned away this year than in previous years, and at least half of them return to unsafe situations because of insufficient housing alternatives.
The county's Area Housing Authority (AHA) serves approximately 8,160 persons. Of these, 91 percent are assisted through 1,526 federally funded Section 8 rental assistance certificates. AHA operates public housing that includes 195 senior units and 110 family units. As of January 1995, 2,790 persons appeared on waiting lists for AHA's various housing programs, including 2,236 families, 201 elderly, 245 disabled persons, and 108 handicapped persons. No new applications have been accepted since 1991, and the wait ranges from 2 to 5 years.
Residents in several public housing complexes owned by AHA are being trained to increase resident involvement in management.
Cities with separate housing authorities include:
Market conditions are the key barrier to affordable housing in Ventura County. A 1989 study showed that among all California communities, Ventura County had the fewest number of households who could afford a new home. Since then, costs have fallen substantially. However, the recessionary climate responsible for these lower prices has also created economic problems for potential homebuyers. Furthermore, rents have continued to increase faster than incomes, and high construction costs prevent developers from beginning new construction.
Laws and regulations also add substantial costs to housing development, and individual cities are examining their processes to see if changes are needed. In Moorpark, low-income and senior communities are exempt from the Growth Management Ordinance. Housing and development of all kinds is discouraged in the unincorporated areas because of insufficient water supplies, poor air quality, and other environmental concerns.
The county and the entitlement cities fund the Ventura County Fair Housing Council, which provides counseling and education.
HUD guidelines indicate that 49 percent of the county's housing units may contain lead-based paint. In 1993-1994, 46 cases of lead poisoning were reported, with the majority being in Oxnard. The county Public Health Department will be implementing a program to reduce lead-based paint risks.
Special housing for the frail elderly is needed. An elder abuse shelter, a respite facility, and day care for the elderly are also needed. Approximately 250 persons with AIDS live in Ventura County, with nearly 60 new cases being reported every year. About 80 persons receive case management services, and another 50 are waiting to receive these services. An estimated 40-50 homeless people have AIDS. More housing is needed for persons with AIDS. Mental health workers surveyed 1,138 clients and found that 420 (37 percent) had housing problems which could affect their recovery.
The county identified public facility needs by consulting county and city agencies. In most cities, the primary needs are for youth centers, parks and recreation facilities, and parking facilities. Some cities also need municipal building improvements.
The greatest infrastructure need is for storm drainage. The southeastern part of the county needs earthquake repairs. State budget changes have reduced street maintenance, and cities seek to meet the emerging need. Previously neglected neighborhoods need sidewalk construction and upgrades.
All of the cities have identified public facilities that need to be modified to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Earthquake damage has accentuated the need for historic preservation in several communities.
Economic revitalization is a necessity throughout the county because of earthquake impact, the ongoing recession, or continuing chronic problems (as experienced in Port Hueneme and Fillmore). Code enforcement and reduced water use are also emphasized in some cities.
Ventura County seeks to rehabilitate owner-occupied houses, to expand the affordable housing stock, to make more rental units available, and to increase homeownership for low- and moderate-income households. The following activities are priorities in the indicated cities:
Homelessness priorities include: support for social services, homelessness prevention programs, assistance to homeless persons with mental illness, transitional housing, and an assistance center for homeless people.
General priorities are to remove architectural barriers, to enhance economic development and educational opportunity, to increase and improve public facilities, and to strengthen infrastructure as required by public safety concerns or housing needs. With the exception of the city of Ventura, these needs will be met using CDBG funds.
The following activities are priorities in the indicated cities:
In addition to city-specific economic development activities, the county is developing long-term economic recovery plans that focus on tourism, a revolving loan fund for businesses, and assistance to microenterprises.
AHA operates the Family Self-Sufficiency program, a Federal program that enables low-income households to move beyond poverty with the assistance of community partners. AHA also administers programs that offer counseling and suggest methods for meeting housing needs, such as sharing homes to reduce costs and to increase security and companionship. Job training programs are also available.
The county will actively work to assist affordable housing development, using its funds and financial powers as well as zoning and ordinance changes. The county will also collaborate with numerous nonprofit housing developers and human service groups.
Ventura County will work with all city staffs and with nonprofit providers to meet housing and community development needs.
For the first year of the Consolidated Plan, the Ventura County Entitlement Area will receive $3 million in CDBG funds, $1.1 million in HOME funds, and $101,000 in ESG funds.
CDBG funds will be used for:
ESG funds will be used for:
HOME funds will be used for:
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).