Message to Our Community
September 24, 2020
Dear County of Ventura Community Members:
I would like to share with you some of the work that the Human Services Agency and our network of community partners have been involved in since the inception of this pandemic in addressing assistance for our residents who are most at risk of critical health issues and financial hardship.
To address the needs of our older adults and individuals with disabilities, a call center was established by the Human Services Agency that made check-in calls to high-risk individuals a priority, assessing their safety, well-being, and health. Many of these calls resulted in follow-up visits from in-home care providers, as well as referrals for other services; however, the predominant need that came from these calls was for food.
Thank you to the many County disaster service workers who stepped up to assist in making these calls and to our social workers who have stayed connected to our most vulnerable residents—children and older adults—during this time. This work has ensured that this population, who is most at risk of abuse and neglect throughout this event, can stay safe and well during the stay-home orders and beyond and connect with essential services and food resources. If you have concerns for a child or older adult, please call our hotline anytime, day or night, at 805-654-3200.
The Human Services Agency has experienced a sharp increase in our CalFresh and Medi-Cal programs. Staff remains dedicated to meeting your essential service needs online, by phone, and drop-off/mail-in services. We are appreciative of our case workers in how many people they have helped during these challenging times and will continue to do so.
We appreciate the critical role that our partners—FOOD Share, Area Agency on Aging, and multiple other community partners—have played and continue to play to increase distribution of nutritious food across the county, supplementing the existing efforts of CalFresh to help feed an unprecedented number of individuals each and every day.
Many of our residents have also found themselves behind in rent and at risk of eviction due to financial hardships brought on by the pandemic. The Ventura County Pandemic Rental Assistance program, approved by our County Board of Supervisors that launched in June of this year, provided eligible households with rental assistance allotments for up to three months to assist with rental arrearages for a total investment of $11.4 million in CARES Act funding, providing relief not only to those renters, but also to property managers. This program helped to ensure some of our lowest income residents maintain housing, which is so critical to their well-being and financial stability as well as the economic stability of our community.
The Board of Supervisors also approved the Farmworker Household Assistance Program for farmworkers who live in Ventura County, which aims to match County funds with local donor community funds through the Ventura County Community Foundation. This investment is for household assistance specifically for farmworkers, given the disproportional impacts that the pandemic has brought upon our farmworker community. We are most appreciative of this commitment and investment, given the essential role our farmworkers play in ensuring our local and national food supply and strength of our own local economy.
Project Roomkey was another initiative launched during the onset of the pandemic in recognition that people experiencing homelessness, living in congregate shelters, or living in unsheltered conditions were at high risk and most susceptible to COVID-19. Project Roomkey provided for the temporary utilization of four motels across Ventura County, which housed individuals, 65 years of age or older with underlying health conditions. We were successful at maintaining their safety and well-being and providing an opportunity for them to transition into more suitable, long-term housing environments. Much appreciation goes out to the large team HSA worked with that was comprised of leadership from our County Executive Office, Office of Emergency Services, Public Health, Health Care Agency, Behavioral Health, our Farmworker Resource Program, and a large network of community partners who stepped up to support this effort.
For those still seeking permanent housing, Project Roomkey has moved into a motel voucher program called Project Homekey, a state initiative to acquire and convert motels into permanent housing. Further, the Backpack Medicine team is providing rapid response in the community to encampments and other unsheltered locations for anyone who may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Stay Safe and Well, Ventura County!