With a history of passion, dedication and vision, the Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation is celebrating 35 years of providing comprehensive affordable housing services and community economic development activities to residents most lacking in opportunity in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.
The organization’s roots started in 1975 when farmworkers living at Cabrillo Village, a former farm labor camp in Saticoy, received eviction notices from the labor camp’s grower owners. Rather than lose their homes, the residents organized to form the Cabrillo Improvement Association (CIA) in 1976. The CIA served as a community-based organization for the purpose of revitalizing Cabrillo Village. In 1981 the CIA was incorporated as the Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC).
“As the African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a village,” said Jaime Bordenave, the former Executive Director of the Cabrillo Improvement Association.” Looking back at the history of Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (and its predecessor, Cabrillo Improvement Association), as well as Cabrillo Village itself, the support of hundreds of staff, board members, and supporting organizations and local governments is astounding. The results are impressive: 32-plus major preservation and new development projects, more than 1,400 homes and thousands of program participants. A special shout-out goes to Rodney Fernandez, whose hand was at the helm for most of these 35 years. It is a personal honor to have played a role for a short time at the beginning of the organization. Congratulations!”
Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation’s early roots continue to ground the organization’s approach to community development. “I am most proud of Cabrillo’s origin,” said Margarita de Escontrias, Chief Executive Officer. “I am moved by the compelling reasons people rose up. Our founders were not there solely picketing or marching, they defied their condition and that was an act of resistance and leadership. The character of that community of farmworkers demonstrates such strength and an ability to survive. This is why our decisions are not only important, but they are personal. We don’t want to disappoint our ancestors.”
Today CEDC is recognized as a leader in affordable housing statewide and nationally and is proud to be the largest developer of affordable homes in Ventura County. The organization has constructed 1,381 multifamily rental units and 400 single-family for-sale homes. The NeighborWorks Homeownership Center provides home ownership education and counseling as well as foreclosure prevention services and financial coaching. The Property Management Division manages 1,032 rental homes in 24 developments that provide housing for more than 3,300 extremely low-income to moderately low-income residents.
Committed to its communities, CEDC continues to support its residents even after they move into their homes by providing opportunities for social engagement and leadership, community organizing, homework clubs and afterschool activities, and a variety of programs for youth and adults in fitness, nutrition, finances and more.
With new opportunities and joint ventures on the horizon, CEDC looks forward to the future. “Like all meaningful work there will be challenges,” said de Escontrias. “We are excited about advancing the organization with partnerships with our Housing Authorities in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties; working with nonprofit and for-profit developers; and fulfilling our mission of facilitating self-sufficiency for individuals and families through affordable community building.”