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FORUM HIGHLIGHTS HOMELESSNESS IN VENTURA COUNTY
The League of Women Voters of Ventura County Public Forum “Homelessness in Ventura County: Issues, Myths, Strategies, Legislations, Achievements, Challenges” took place on November 13 from 9 AM to 12 PM at the Ventura County Office of Education. The program, scheduled as part of Homelessness Awareness Month, presented the varying ways Ventura County cities have been dealing with varying situations of homelessness, with overall emphasis on action that is taking place. The event was introduced by Jennifer Matos, President of the LWVVC, and moderated by League member David Maron with his usual efficiency and congeniality. The LWVVC provided light refreshments along with coffee and other beverages supplied by the facility staff, who were most helpful at every stage.
The first speaker was Christopher Janienko, one of three local homeless or recently homeless persons (the other two being Sheri Ray and Donna Rogers) who told their stories compellingly and made the point, then expounded by Rick Pearson, Ventura County Foundation Special Projects Officer: Typically, and increasingly, homeless people are persons like most of us who have experienced problems with employment or health as well as other misfortunes. Such experiences were also dramatized by several members of Ventura Improv. Subsequently, Cathy Brudnicki, Executive Director of Ventura County Homelessness and Housing Coalition, explained the Coalition’s survey of the most recent planning on levels from County to Federal.
Following a panel comprised of speakers for six county cities were Bill Finley, Ventura Salvation Army and Ventura Social Service Policy (Ventura); Maria Collier, former head of Oxnard Commission on Homelessness (Oxnard); Sandra Thompson, Simi Valley Task Force on Homelessness (Conejo Valley); Rick Schroeder, Executive Director, Many Mansions (Thousand Oaks); Jessica Murray, Board of Directors, Ojai Valley Family Shelter (Ojai); Kay Wilson-Bolton, Many Meals founder and long time advocate for homeless (Santa Paula). Collectively, the panelists showed the different challenges and priorities in dealing with homelessness throughout Ventura County. The final speaker, on remaining challenges, was Neal Andrews of Ventura Social Services Task Force and a Ventura city councilman who emphasized the problems of Nimbyism and the “culture of Self.”
A Q&A period concluded the program, which was attended by approximately 70 people, including Supervisor Steve Bennett and Sheriff-elect Geoff Dean; 35 returned evaluation forms, and these reflected a very favorable reaction overall. The LWVVC Program committee will be preparing for debates on new studies of new positions for the State Convention in May. Committee thanks all of the above and many others who worked to make a program a success.
The Program Committee will now begin
planning a public forum dealing with aspects of the prison system, such as
sentencing and privatization, scheduled for February. Later in 2011
committee will be preparing for May 2011 Convention debates on new studies or