Pictured: Daniel Wilson (left), an advocate with CalCare, Jude Wilson, co-chair of Democratic Socialists of America, Ventura County Healthcare Justice working group and Jon Huycke, Oxnard resident at the rally in Oxnard  in support of the Guaranteed Health Care for All Act (AB1400) on April 17, 2021. Photo courtesy of Democratic Socialists of America, Ventura County. 

by Kimberly Rivers

United Way launches initiative to end homelessness

The United Way of Ventura County has launched a new initiative to end homelessness in the county that includes a new landlord engagement program to support those prioritized for housing vouchers and housing subsidies in order to prevent and end homelessness. 

Details are online at www.unitedtoendhomelessnessvc.org

SpeakOut rally for Health Care for All bill

As part of a statewide day of action on April 17 at Oxnard College, local activists, nurses and officials gathered for a car rally in support of Assembly Bill 1400, the Guaranteed Health Care for All Act. AB-1400 would create a program called California Guaranteed Health Care for All, or CalCare, that would provide comprehensive universal single-payer healthcare coverage and a healthcare cost control system for all residents of the state. 

“Isn’t it time that we recognized what the lack of healthcare is doing to our community and our nation?” asked Carmen Ramirez, Ventura County Supervisor (Dist. 5), who attended the rally. “No nation can be strong when so many people have to worry if they can get life-saving healthcare for themselves and their children.  Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcies for families. We can do better and we must. Now is the time!” 

The co-hosts of the April 17 event, Daniel Wilson (left), Gina Currie RN (NNU/CNA), Jude Wilson and Michelle Sood, holding her daughter, Leila. Photo submitted.

National Nurses United, the California Nurses Association and the Democratic Socialists of America were the organizers of the car rally, with local residents sharing their experiences of dealing with the profit-driven and fragmented healthcare system. Other groups who supported the event included Black Lives Matter, the Diversity Collective of Ventura County, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and the Ventura County Coalition for Student Success. 

The bill is currently active, awaiting committee referral. 

Read the text of the bill online at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billSearchClient.xhtml.

Grant for digital bilingual literacy program awarded to LULAC

Spectrum awards grant to LULAC for bilingual digital training program for students and parents. Local officials pictured from left: Oxnard Mayor John Zaragoza, Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios, District Director for Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin; Celina L. Zacarias, Oxnard Harbor Commissioner; Dr. Maria Elena Cruz, Director of LNESC Oxnard; Dr. Tom McCoy, Superintendent of OUHSD; Carmen Ramirez, Ventura County Supervisor; Roger Adams, Principal of Channel Islands High School; and from Spectrum, Keri Askew Bailey,and Whitney O’Neill. Photo submitted.

A $25,000 Spectrum Digital Education Grant  has been awarded to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Educational Service Centers to fund a bilingual digital literacy program for low income students and Spanish speaking parents, as part of Spectrum’s $6 million multi-year national commitment to communities across the county. 

Clinicas celebrates 50 years

Founded in 1971, Clinicas del Camino Real Inc. was meant to serve the medically underserved population in Ventura County. Over the past 50 years, it has grown into one of the largest healthcare systems on the Central Coast, serving over 100,000 patients. With 16 full-service health centers, mobile medical units and 25 school-based sites, the organization serves patients of all ages. With over 800 employees Clinicas is one of the largest employers in the county. The current CEO of Clinicas is Robert S. Juarez. clinicas.org 

Ventura offers lawn removal water rebates

With low rainfall this past season, local water levels remain low and the drought continues. The city of Ventura continues to offer an incentive program for customers of Ventura Water to replace their grass lawns with native and/or other low-water, drought-tolerant plants. Called the turf removal rebate, the city is offering $2 per square foot (minimum of 200 square feet) up to $3,200 for residential customers and $6,400 for commercial or multi-family properties. 

The rebate funds are meant to pay for part of the project and can be used to cover design fees, low-water-use plants, permeable mulch, disposal fees, rainwater capture systems and upgrades of current irrigation systems. 

One application is allowed per address or water customer account. 

Details on this and other water conservation incentive programs with the city of Ventura are online at www.removeyourturf.com/ventura.

Food bank pop-up sites

Food Share of Ventura County is operating pop-up food sites for anyone in need to receive free food. Food is handed out on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Proof of county residency required. Drive up or walk up. Locations and schedule this week are: 

EL RIO: Friday, May 7, 5 p.m. at Rio Mesa High School, 545 Central Ave., Oxnard

MOORPARK: Saturday, May 8, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Ruben Castro Charities, 5700 Condor Drive, Moorpark

For more information and future pop-up site schedules, visit: foodshare.com/covid19/ or call 805-983-7100.

County and Oxnard agree on permanent shelter

Ventura County and the city of Oxnard have adopted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) laying out the initial concept for developing and operating a permanent shelter for people experiencing homelessness. 

The proposal includes developing a five-story structure at Second and B streets in downtown Oxnard that will serve as a Homeless Solution Center. The first floor will serve as a 110-bed emergency shelter, the second floor will contain services and offices, and the top three floors will provide 56 units of residential permanent supportive housing. 

The current temporary shelter on K Street in Oxnard will be relocated to the new center. 

A cost sharing structure and tentative timeline is included in the MOU with a target date for construction to begin in 2022 after full funding is secured. 

It is estimated that the county’s one time cost outlay will be $2 million with $1.5 million annually in operating costs. In March, the city of Oxnard approved funding allocations of nearly $1.6 million to move the project forward. 

This will be the second shelter operated in a partnership between the county and a city. The first is the 55-bed facility in Ventura, established in 2019.