Santa Fe Springs Transitional Living Center receives National Social Services Award

A SEWING CLASS is held weekly at the Santa Fe Springs Transitional Living Center. The class is taught by a volunteer.

The Santa Fe Springs Transitional Living Center (TLC) program, located in Santa Fe Springs, California, is designed to serve the growing population of homeless families in the southeast region of Los Angeles.

“The Center provides comprehensive residential support services to 28 homeless women and their children, most of who are victims of domestic violence and substance abuse,” said Executive Director Jon Henderson. “The purpose of the program is to move homeless families to permanent and independent housing, increased skills and income levels, and greater self-determination.”

The TLC, which has been in full operation since its dedication in February 1992, has a reputation for achieving excellence; its goal is to change lives by offering hope, building confidence and creating new opportunities. Its comprehensive nature has enabled it to support the local Army vision of healing the wounds of social, economic and spiritual poverty, one life at a time.

Mr. Herman Stenger, a well-known social services expert, recently viewed the program, rating it a 9.5/10–and noted that in twenty years of reviewing Army programs, he had “never seen a better example of living the Army mission.” He also stated that the program “achieves higher success rates than similar programs.”

Success rates

TLC program graduates have been successful in obtaining employment and permanent and independent housing. Over 90% of these families left the program last year with full-time employment, at above minimum wage, with benefits, and moved into permanent housing. And, more than 90% of them retained that employment and housing after a 12- month follow-up. More than 200 TLC families have now successfully transitioned to independent housing since the program began, including 29 during the past year.


A STATE-OF-THE-ART recording studio is part of the Santa Fe Springs facility. Studio 12000 includes a 3,000 foot sound stage that has been used by Campus Crusade, Zondervan, Safeways Stores and Southern California Edison.

Resident clients entering the TLC are typically unemployed with little or no work histories and few marketable job skills. Most are homeless due to a combination of domestic violence and substance abuse. TLC children have not received good parenting, have witnessed or experienced significant physical and emotional abuse and neglect, and are often developmentally delayed. Due to these broad and significant factors, anything less than a 24-month program fails to produce lasting results. “There are very few long-term programs that serve homeless women and their children, provide such a holistic approach, and charge no fees,” said Henderson.

The need for other programs in Los Angeles such as the Santa Fe Transitional Living Center is evident: The latest data suggests that there are 49,000 homeless family members in Los Angeles and the TLC is forced to turn away over 20 families each week.


Effective ministry

The TLC is also an effective ministry. Devotions are held each morning and two Bible studies are offered to residents each week. A weeknight chapel service is also held and staff prays with, and for, residents regularly. Although participation in ministry activities is strictly voluntary, almost 90% of residents attend at least one of them. During the past year, 24 residents accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Each key staff member is a committed Christian and is dedicated to the spiritual growth and program success of every family. The residential coordinator is an ordained minister and the executive director is the son of retired Salvation Army officers.

Studio 12000

The property purchased for the TLC also houses a 3,000 square foot sound stage. That sound stage, “Studio 12000,” was renovated and equipped so that it could be leased to provide supplemental income for the program. Revenue from the sound stage grew at a rate of 40% last year, making it a significant and growing source of income. Clients have included: World Wide Pictures, Zondervan Publishing, Campus Crusade for Christ, Safeway Stores, and the Southern California Edison Co.

“Typical” resident

The typical resident is just over 30 years old and has two children. She has suffered years of physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence and substance abuse. She has not had the benefit of a loving and supportive family and she displays very poor parenting skills. Her children have been abused and neglected as well and have either personally experienced, or have witnessed, serious episodes of domestic violence. The typical resident is a product of multi-generational welfare dependence, has very low self-esteem and poor mental health, no work history, few marketable skills and is heavily in debt. Recent statistics claim that 50% of welfare cases are now working, leaving only the most difficult of cases still in the system. It is these cases that the TLC is successfully teaching to work and live independently.

Virtually all of the services previously described are offered on-site, including a 12 Step program. Each resident family is provided an individualized case plan contract which includes many of the following services: finance/budgeting/debt reduction, professional counseling, career planning/vocational training and placement, licensed childcare, housing search assistance, computer and literacy training, and parenting and independent living skills classes. In addition, residents receive all meals, clothing and medical services. As part of the follow-up effort, residents are helped and encouraged to build a network of support, beginning with a church home.

Community support

The community actively supports the TLC. Over 400 volunteers are involved with various aspects of the program during the year, including counseling interns from Fuller Seminary. Cash and in-kind donations are received almost daily, and local city governments, schools, the fire department and police department are key program partners. Throughout the year they sponsor or support a number of events for TLC Residents.

Residents are encouraged to get involved with the local corps, which is located less than one mile from the facility. One night each week as many as 14 of the TLC children attend youth activities at the corps; the corps has also conducted Santa Fe’s weekly chapel service.

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