With its stairs replaced by ramps, its bathrooms modified and the addition of a training room, a Van Nuys home has been converted into a temporary residence for the disabled.
The nonprofit Darrell McDaniel Independent Living Center bought the home, with a capacity of seven residents, last year and plans to open it next week, Norma Jean Vescovo, the organization's executive director, said at a dedication Wednesday.
The residents, who will not be charged, will be assisted in finding regular housing as quickly as possible, she said.
The group, which helps disabled Californians from its offices in Van Nuys, Lancaster and Bakersfield, said the shelter is the only one of its kind in Los Angeles County.
The group bought the house in the 14100 block of Haynes Street for $120,000, using a $90,000 state grant and a $30,000 loan from a local savings and loan, Vescovo said. The City of Los Angeles also loaned about $30,000 for renovation of the structure, she said.
Housing Hard to Find
Shelter organizers say inexpensive housing for the disabled is difficult to find in the San Fernando Valley. The people expected to be served by the shelter might be temporarily homeless because of unexpected medical costs, or because they recently moved to the area and found it difficult to find housing modified for the handicapped, Vescovo said.
The 75 people who attended Wednesday's dedication on the lawn in front of the one-story home included several disabled people helped by Vescovo's 10-year-old organization, which operates on donations and government grants.
One of those, Marilyn Grupp of Northridge, who uses a wheelchair, said she moved to the Valley from her federally subsidized San Francisco apartment last June to study voice at California State University, Northridge.
"It became a nightmare finding housing," she said.
The staff of the McDaniel center let Grupp stay in its main office in Van Nuys for six weeks and helped her find an apartment near the campus.
Vescovo said an important criterion in deciding whom to admit to the home will be how easily the McDaniel center can "put them back in the community." The center probably will not shelter those who cannot function on their own, she said.