OXNARD, Calif. - The Vagabond Inn motel in Oxnard could soon be transformed into permanent housing for the homeless. The motel has already been providing help during the pandemic, but now the change could help many more people get off the streets.
“This is my room right here,” said Henry Vasquez, who showed off his motel room with pride. “It is very comfortable in here, nice big bed, air conditioning.”
Vasquez has come a long way after being homeless since the '90s.
“I had a rough life,” said Vasquez. “But thanks to Ventura County they have been helping me a lot.”
Vasquez has been staying at the Oxnard Vagabond Inn for nearly four months. He and others took advantage of Project Roomkey. It's a statewide initiative aimed at helping homeless people who are at high risk for COVID-19. The goal is to reduce the spread of the virus by getting the homeless off the streets and into motels.
“They bring food to us, and they give us clothing,” said Vasquez. “I have been helped with transportation, by the Ventura Transportation Center. The motel is really clean.”
Funding for the project is expected to end in January, but the motel in Oxnard could become a permanent housing option.
“We are pursuing the purchase, and conversion of the Oxnard Vagabond motel into 70 units to housing,” said Tara Carruth, the Ventura County Continuum of Care program manager. “This effort is supported by $9.5 million in State Homekey funding, and $3.5 million in County coronavirus relief funds.”
If Project Homekey happens, it would mean many of those in need would have a place to stay and get back on their feet.
“I feel 100 percent encouraged,” said Tony Bassin, “This place is way better than sleeping in my van.”
Bassin says he has lived in his van for nearly three years.
Project Roomkey has sheltered more than 400 homeless people in Ventura County from March through June. Many of those clients have been able to transition into Section 8 housing.
“It feels good now because I am safe,” said Vasquez. “Out there you can't sleep with both eyes closed. Here, I can.”