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Funds OKd for Pasadena Shelter for Homeless

February 01, 1987|JILL STEWART | Times Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors has agreed to award a combination of state and county funding to a care and shelter programs for the homeless in Pasadena.

The action is part of the board's 2-month-old effort to step up approval of all pending contracts that would help the homeless mentally ill.

The supervisors voted 4 to 0, with Supervisor Kenneth Hahn absent, to grant $113,000 to Fuller Theological Seminary to offer day care and help with living skills for chronically mentally ill adults who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

The seminary already provides mental health programs in the Pasadena area through its Intercommunity Alternatives Network, but will expand its efforts under the contract. County officials said the agency will work on the streets with mentally ill adults who congregate in Pasadena-area parks and other public areas in the San Gabriel Valley.

Expanded Services

An existing facility, known as the Junction, will expand its services at Euclid Avenue and Walnut Street to provide a wide range of organized activities and allow the homeless mentally ill to drop in when they want to get off the streets, officials said.

Mary Ahtone, director of the program, said their clients will be encouraged to decide and plan the activities they want the Junction to offer.

"This will give them a feeling of involvement and ownership that is so important to them," Ahtone said. In addition, she said, the healthiest clients will be encouraged to participate in peer counseling and other self-help activities that promote a feeling of independence.

Ahtone said the Pasadena area has been estimated to have about 800 homeless, including the mentally ill, the new poor and people who have chosen to live on the streets. However, she said, the figure is undocumented and "is probably on the conservative side."

The flurry of agreements signed by the board on Tuesday stemmed from a vote it took last November instructing the county Department of Mental Health to give top priority to completing all pending contracts that could help the homeless mentally ill, county officials said.

Supervisor Ed Edelman, who has championed several measures concerning the homeless, said all of the contracts "were in the works" long before the board's pivotal vote last week to pay county workers to go to gathering spots frequented by the homeless on cold nights and persuade them to accept free vouchers for hotel rooms.

Edelman has said that last week's vote was the first time the conservative-majority board has backed him in his efforts to get emergency help for the county's homeless.

This week's approval of contracts for shelter and care programs "couldn't have come at a better time," he said.

"We have people on the streets in what you would think of as affluent areas, Woodland Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica, the beaches," Edelman said. "It's a county problem and it's a national problem."

Other Programs Funded

In addition to the Pasadena contract, the Transitional Living Centers for Los Angeles County Inc. was awarded $127,000 to provide 12 beds for the homeless mentally ill in downtown Long Beach. Clients will be allowed to stay an average of 90 to 120 days and will be taught basic living skills, county officials said.

In Culver City, the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center will receive $247,000 for its Crossroads program, which will offer 12 beds to homeless individuals who stay an average of 90 to 120 days. The center is searching for a Westside location.

Clients will receive training in communication skills, relaxation therapy, art therapy and a wide range of other services to help return them to the mainstream, county officials said.

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