By Mike Harris 

The Ventura County Star story here. 

Camarillo, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks have been awarded more than $1.3 million in community development grants from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The cities say they will use the money to fund social service programs that benefit seniors, the homeless, special needs residents, low- and moderate-income households and affordable housing.

Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, announced the grants in a news release Friday.

“Investing in our communities is essential to keeping Ventura County strong, vibrant, and diverse,” Brownley said. “These grants will support critical investments our cities will make to support the most vulnerable among us, in keeping with Ventura County’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all our residents.”

HUD awarded $255,107 to Camarillo, $547,246 to Simi Valley, and $557,958 to Thousand Oaks as part of its Community Development Block Grant program.

Begun in 1974, the program provides communities with resources to address a wide range of community development needs, HUD says. One of the department’s longest continuously run programs, it provides annual grants on a formula basis to states and local governments.

Officials of Camarillo, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks said they welcomed the money.

“The city of Camarillo is grateful for Congresswoman Brownley’s support of the CDBG program,” said City Manager Dave Norman. “This money is vital to our efforts to fund needed social service programs for seniors and the homeless, as well as preserving affordable housing in the community.”

Simi Valley City Manager Eric Levitt said the city “has a range of housing and community development needs. CDBG funds help address the myriad of needs identified during the public outreach process.

“Recognizing the national objectives of these funding programs and specific program regulations, the city of Simi Valley intends to use these funds to coordinate programs, services, and projects to create decent and suitable living environments to benefit low- and moderate-income households and those with special needs,” Levitt said.

Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña said “this money will go to support public and social service grants to help low-income residents, seniors and families in Thousand Oaks. We are grateful to Congresswoman Brownley for supporting level funding especially as this program was proposed for elimination this year.”