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  • VC Star | Ventura County Star

    Tiny home community for young adults set to open in Ojai Valley in July

    By Wes Woods II, Ventura County Star,

    2024-06-11

    A tiny home community in the Ojai Valley aimed at young adults at risk of becoming homeless is set to open in July.

    "Our goal is to intercede at this pivotal time of life when a lot of supportive services that are available to minors fall away," said Dan Parziale, a co-founder of Mesa, the Ojai-based nonprofit behind the effort.

    Residents will include young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. The housing will serve people age 18-24.

    Mesa will be providing safe housing and a broad spectrum of wraparound services including education, job training and housing placement, Parziale said.

    The tiny homes, located at 400 Gorham Road just east of Ojai city limits, were installed in April, Parziale said. They are prefabricated modular units.

    Nine of the 10 houses are 260 square feet. One is 300 square feet for Americans with Disabilities Act purposes.

    Tiny homes typically range between 80 to 400 square feet, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development .

    The homes are furnished with a couch, coffee table, desk, chair, kitchen and bathroom, Parziale said. Residents will also have a laptop and Wi-Fi access.

    The price of one of the new units is about $70,000, he said.

    A larger main house on the property will provide office space and can accommodate two more young adults. Only one television, in the main house, will be installed to encourage community-building, Parziale said.

    A big chunk of the money for the site work and property, which is a 10-acre former orange orchard , comes from $4.2 million in state funding through Project Homekey, the state's program to expand housing opportunities for homeless people.

    Ventura County Supervisor Matt LaVere said in an email the county helped Mesa access the $4.2 million. The county also contributed $1.2 million of its American Rescue Plan Act money to initially support the Project Homekey funds.

    "These are going to be young adults who have dealt with a lot of trauma in their lives," LaVere said. "For Mesa to provide them this level of housing and to couple that with the level of care they’re going to get, I think it’s going to really change a lot of lives."

    Boys and girls who leave the foster care system in particular have high odds of becoming homeless, LaVere said.

    "It's a problem that we know is out there," he said. "That's why it's so important that we catch them, we provide them care, we provide them housing before they become a statistic."

    Mesa has also raised $1.7 million through private fundraising, Parziale said.

    Mesa is working with the Ventura County Continuum of Care to find potential residents. They will be allowed to stay 24 months. Their length of stay will depend on individual needs.

    "We're trying to create this very individualized experience," Parziale said, rather than establishing a cookie-cutter approach for all residents.

    On Saturday afternoon, an open house was held at the site with food, music, art activities for children and more.

    Wes Woods II covers West County for the Ventura County Star. Reach him at wesley.woodsii@vcstar.com , 805-437-0262 or @JournoWes .

    This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Tiny home community for young adults set to open in Ojai Valley in July

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