New Complex Expands Homeless Service
by Beverly Ventriss –
Surrounded by prominent local politicians, community leaders and well-wishers numbering more than 150, Southern California Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred R. Van Cleef broke ground and dedicated a new site for the Westwood Transitional Village, a nine-year-old program that helps homeless families get their lives back on track.
Composed of six separate structures, the new 41-unit complex is scheduled for completion in the fall of 1999 and will include a child care facility for up to 70 infants, toddlers and pre-school age children.
“This project represents a partnership, and together we will work aggressively to change the lives of the people we serve. We are committing ourselves to being pro-active and doing whatever is necessary to help our fellow human beings. That’s what it’s all about. God wants us to change the future, not just let it happen,” said Van Cleef.
Illustrating the positive results of the Westwood Transitional Village program, Robert Del Haro, a U.S. Army veteran, and his wife, Sandra, are parents of three children. The youngest, Sara, is 8 years old and deaf. Overcoming a 20- year-old alcohol and chemical addiction, the Del Haros turned to The Salvation Army for help as they struggled to stabilize their lives.
Now employed and living in housing the Army helped secure and supplied with food, clothes and household furnishings, the Del Haros speak of a future with hope: “We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for The Salvation Army. They’ve given us a second chance.”
Other success stories include a former resident who graduated number two in her class at a nearby college and one who graduated first in a nursing program, receiving her master’s degree.
The new $ 3.7 million project has received over $2 million in housing development funds by the County of Los Angeles Community Development Commission and $3.7 million by the California Equity Fund (CEF) to expand services with the new apartment complex.
Funds are raised by CEF from corporations who desire to invest in the development of affordable housing through the federal low-income housing tax credit program. Other funds include $150,000 from the Ralph M. Parson Foundation and another $1.7 will be raised or allocated in private funds by The Salvation Army.
Opened in 1989, The Westwood Transitional Village represents a long standing partnership and collaboration between the Army, various government agencies, officials, private businesses and other entities. The General Services Administration of the federal government originally leased the land to the Army with the help of Judge Harry Pregerson of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. (Then) Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley came forward and provided 15 mobile homes from the city to be placed on the site. During the nine and a-half years of operation, over 600 homeless family members were served at the Westwood Transitional Village, with approximately 95 percent settled in permanent housing after leaving the program.
In 1996, the site was turned over permanently to the Army and must be used to serve the homeless through 2026. Realizing the mobile homes would not survive that long led to the planning process of the present project. In addition to the 41-unit complex and childcare facility under construction, spaces will also be provided for counseling, health care, social events and other services for the families, who can reside at the complex for up to two years. A variety of support services, including job development, will help prepare families for independent living in the community.
Most of the families will be graduates of substance abuse treatment programs, foster care group homes, homeless shelters and other residential programs operated by The Salvation Army and other agencies. Some of the families will be young mothers in a collaboration between the Army and the County Department of Children and Family Services. Other families will be headed by homeless veterans in a collaboration between The Salvation Army and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.