Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation Ensures Quality, Safe, Affordable Housing | Good for Santa Barbara

Posted on November 23, 2022
| 1:10 p.m.

Start giving season off strong by making a donation to a local nonprofit in Santa Barbara County on #GivingTuesday, November 29!

With your support, these nonprofit organizations can continue to thrive and serve those who need their services most. This is why Noozhawk has relaunched its annual Good for Santa Barbara section, to make it easier to find a cause you connect with and donation information is readily available.

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Denise Bickerstaff, Director of Business Development and Administration for Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation to learn more about how she ensures access to quality, safe, affordable housing that lays the foundation for our residents to grow and prosper.

Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation

Ask: What is the name and mission of your non-profit organization?

Answer: Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation develops and manages service-enriched and inclusive residential communities, ensuring access to quality, safe and affordable housing that lays the foundation for our residents to grow and prosper.

Q: How long has your nonprofit organization been in business and who started it?

A: In 1975, farmworker families living in substandard housing conditions in Cabrillo Village (Saticoy, CA) received eviction notices from the farmer-owners of the labor camp. Resisting the demolition of their homes, 80 visionary farmworker families raised money to purchase the land, founded the Cabrillo Improvement Association (CIA), and became legal owners as a cooperative on May 5, 1976. Working together, the Families committed to creating a vibrant and stable community that created jobs, increased self-sufficiency, and created growth opportunities for themselves and other farmworker families. Over the next five years, the CIA rehabbed 80 homes, developed two new housing complexes, started three new business ventures to expand the neighborhood’s economic base, and provided social services to farmworker families. In 1981, in a decision to expand beyond its original mission and borders, the CIA was incorporated to become the Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC). Since 1981, CEDC has completed 1,782 homes in forty-three (43) major developments and has become a state and nationally recognized community economic development corporation.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your non-profit organization?

A: There continues to be a severe shortage of affordable housing in our region. Many of our residents come from unstable housing conditions: overcrowded, unsanitary and unsafe housing, or live in garages, sheds, etc. Housing instability among families and children can be detrimental to family dynamics, child well-being, health, the economy, and other outcomes. . Affordable housing can improve a variety of outcomes for families and children in combination with short- and/or long-term services, helping them meet life’s complex challenges head-on. What we hear from our residents supports this: with stable housing, children have a place to study and their grades improve; residents are more willing to get involved with their neighbors and form a community. The combination of safe, decent and affordable housing, programs and services allow residents to improve their lives and their communities, creating a win-win for families and for our region as a whole.

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Children participating in the Resident Summer Festival at the Paseos property in Oxnard. (Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation)

Q: How is your nonprofit organization primarily funded and what are its greatest needs?

A: While we rely on private investors and government funding to build affordable housing, individual donors and grants are vital to our ability to deliver services and programs once construction is complete and our residents move out. Our greatest need is for funds to provide programs and services for our residents as we do not receive government funding for those activities. We also need funding and equipment for our community rooms and computer labs on our properties so that we can provide access to computers and printers that residents can use to apply for jobs or resources, do school assignments and reports, write resumes, etc.

Q: How does your nonprofit organization use its funds?

A: CEDC uses the donations it receives to provide programs and services to our residents. Our Resident and Community Services (RCS) Department staff work with residents to identify programs that are most helpful and work with resident volunteers to plan community building activities for neighbors can come together and support each other. We are pleased to transition back to in-person programs. Our homework clubs will again be offered at our properties with school-age children. We are also offering the following in-person program once again: ESL, Immigration and Citizenship, Financial Ability, Health, Nutrition, and Wellness. Cabrillo EDC created the Rodney Fernandez Leadership Fund (RFLF) in 2011 to honor the legacy of founding CEO Rodney Fernandez (1981-2011). The Rodney Fernandez Leadership Fund builds the leadership skills and self-sufficiency of low-income residents through two channels: educational scholarships and a mini-grant program for community-led improvement projects. Since the fund’s launch, CEDC has awarded $3,250 in mini-grants to CEDC residents to fund resident-led and community initiatives and $77,400 in scholarships for low-income students.

Q: How do people get involved or volunteer for your nonprofit organization?

A: Volunteers are appreciated and welcome! Our greatest need is for volunteers to tutor our children and help them with homework in our after school program. Many of our children have no one to help them with their homework; Your parents may have limited education or limited English language skills. In addition to helping with school work, volunteers can read stories or lead groups in fun arts and crafts activities. Volunteers also serve as mentors by providing exposure to the different careers and life experiences they bring with them. Seasoned professionals with backgrounds in construction, architecture, affordable housing, fundraising, communications, and related fields are encouraged to consider serving on our board of directors. Contact us for more information.

Q: Can you share one or two stories of people whose lives have been changed by your organization?

A: The Magana Family recently shared their perspective and experience with us: “Cabrillo offers us the services of a dignified home. We have everything a home needs.” Mr. Magaña said, “Cabrillo is the best place I have found to live for me and my family. Cabrillo feels like a community.”

Resident Erika Palomar has lived at Azahar Place since it opened 9 years ago. Ms. Palomar said “my experience at Cabrillo is very pleasant. It gives us the opportunity to have a bigger and more beautiful house and, above all, that my daughters have a very healthy and beautiful environment”.

Leticia Chaves has been a resident for 8 years. She told us: “It has been very important for me to live with my family because before I lived in a garage with my two daughters. They had no space and we were paying much more rent than these affordable houses that Cabrillo offers to live comfortably. We have activities, we have had nutrition classes, English classes and cooking classes. We have celebrated birthdays, baby showers, and I think Cabrillo gives us all those communities to live happily in.”

Q: How is the work of your nonprofit organization communicated to the public?

A: In addition to the quarterly newsletters, CEDC maintains an active presence on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram). We share news through press releases and have been mentioned or featured in articles in the local and regional press. We also post our annual report online and send emails to our donors and friends, keeping them informed of what’s happening in Cabrillo.

Q: Why donors should trust your organization and are there other ways to help outside of donations?

A: Transparency and stewardship are core values ​​at Cabrillo. We are proud of our GuideStar Platinum seal of transparency. Please visit our website: to support Cabrillo EDC’s mission of providing housing for individuals and families and to make donations.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your nonprofit that hasn’t been mentioned above?

A: We are very excited about our new affordable housing development: Dolores Huerta Gardens is a 58-unit affordable housing property scheduled for construction in 2023 in Oxnard, CA. The new development aims to provide housing for both farmworkers and homeless veterans in the area. This property will consist of 19 one-bedroom units, 21 two-bedroom units, and 18 three-bedroom units.

Click here to support Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation’s mission to ensure access to quality, safe, affordable housing that creates the foundation for our residents to grow and prosper.

Check out Noozhawk’s Guide to Giving for a complete list of nonprofit organizations to donate to this giving season.


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