OXNARD : Board Rejects Funds for Homeless Shelter

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday against giving Zoe Christian Center $250,000 in federal housing and development grants, dealing a serious blow to a proposed renovation project at Ventura County's largest homeless shelter.

The decision not to grant funds to the Oxnard shelter shocked Zoe officials, who said the major overhaul planned for the center would go on without federal funds. "We're not going to walk away from these homeless folks who need our help just because the county won't give us funding," said Zoe Director Fred Judy.

"We're at the point where everyone is always saying what a great job we're doing, but no one ever does anything to help us out," Judy said.

Ventura County received $2,259,000 this year in federal housing and development subsidies from the department of Housing and Urban Development, said Marty Shaw-Halloway, the county's manager of community development and special projects.

Of that, $710,230 was available for projects in the unincorporated area of the county, Shaw-Halloway said.

More than 30 nonprofit, public and private organizations submitted more than $3 million worth of requests for the funds, Ventura County Chief Administrative Officer Richard Wittenberg said.

HUD officials have ruled that Zoe is ineligible to receive the grant money because the city of Oxnard identified the Rose Avenue site as unsafe in 1988, due to its proximity to a hazardous materials storage site, Shaw-Halloway said.

Although Oxnard officials ruled last month that the site was safe, Judy said the center will underwrite an environmental impact report to clear the matter up permanently.

Board Chairman John Flynn, whose district includes the shelter, directed county staff to assist Zoe workers conduct the study and clear their environmental status.

"I am a supporter of Zoe, and we need to help them somehow lift that cloud that is lingering over them, that they are not located on a safe site," Flynn said.

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