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Year-End Update: Revisiting Scenes and People From 1986 View Stories : Home for Homeless Finds a Home

December 28, 1986|KATHLEEN HENDRIX

View has revisited some of the people and places it reported on in 1986 to update their stories. Among them:

--A shelter for the homeless that was itself homeless.

--An author who had new ideas about how to market and promote his book.

--The campaign to save Nancy Reagan's 1981 inaugural gown, which is stretching under the weight of its bugle beads.

Last May it looked as if, with all the professed concern for the homeless notwithstanding, Alice Callaghan of Las Familias del Pueblo had the ultimate irony on her hands--a shelter for the homeless that was itself homeless.

Las Familias had designed a 130-bed temporary shelter of mobile modular units for homeless families. It had obtained the financing. But it could not find land to put it on in the downtown area--not for lack of land, but because nobody wanted it next to them. Everyone, of course, wanted it. They just wanted it elsewhere.

So it looked as if the funds allocated for the project by the state would have to be given up, that funds promised by the Community Redevelopment Agency would be lost and that $245,000 in private corporate money--such as Arco's $175,000 contribution--would have to be returned.

After several extensions, the end of the year was set as the deadline for making it happen or giving it up.

Finally, it has all come together--thanks to Santa. Santa Fe, that is, not Claus. The railroad has agreed to lease Las Familias a piece of property for 10 years.

"The shelter is going forward," Callaghan said a few hours after a meeting held the week before Christmas. "There will be room in the inn."

If all goes as planned, the downtown family shelter will open next summer near Union Station on Keller Street.

The site is no beauty. In fact Callaghan described it as Godforsaken. "It's sandwiched between a freeway, a bridge, railroad tracks and a police warehouse within shouting distance of the county jail. But we're going to make it look pretty, welcoming and safe."

It hasn't been simple. It has been three years of searching and, recently, months of negotiating to make it happen. That credit, Callaghan said, goes to Las Familias board member Robert Wycoff of Arco. "He never gave up," she said.

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