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Shelter for Battered in Fight for Life

March 19, 1987|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

After losing a $50,000 federal grant, a financially strapped Glendale shelter for battered women has turned to private charity to remain open.

The Phoenix House, where shelter is provided for 200 battered women and children a year, already has had some fund-raising success in less than two weeks. More than $24,000 has been raised from local donations and the United Way.

Officials of the Young Women's Christian Assn. of Glendale, which has relied on federal Community Block Grant funds to operate the shelter for eight years, said the grant money was lost because of a communications mix-up between the YWCA and the county, which allocates the funds.

Barbera Zasloff, director of Phoenix House, said support from the community is helping to make up the loss. About $14,000 in community donations was raised last week at a party at the home of Glendale Mayor Larry Zarian, according to Zasloff. Zarian and Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg organized the fund-raiser after they learned of the plight of the shelter, Zasloff said.

The United Way agreed tentatively this week to allocate $10,000 in emergency funds to the shelter, said Gayle Mehlis, a United Way spokeswoman.

Zasloff said at least $65,000 more must be raised to keep the shelter open this year.

Henry Knawls, director of county community services, said the YWCA failed to submit its request this year in time to qualify for a share of the federal funds. He said all of the federal money has since been allocated.

Zasloff said the YWCA was undergoing staff changes at the time the grant request was due. She said staff members do not recall receiving the county's notice.

Knawls said organizations that were awarded funds this year have priority to renew their contracts for a second 12-month period in 1988, which could block the Phoenix House from receiving any federal money for two years. Knawls said 17 other domestic-violence shelters in the county were awarded federal grants.

Phoenix House also has applied for a $20,000 grant from the county's Homeless Emergency Fund. That money is being distributed by Supervisor Mike Antonovich's office, which has already spent $60,000 of the $144,000 allocated to his district this year.

Vicki Faust, a deputy administering the fund, said there is a strong demand for the money from many organizations in Antonovich's district, which stretches from the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys to the San Gabriel Valley.

Zasloff said about $40,000 of the shelter's $190,000 annual operating budget normally is raised through community donations. The rest has come from county, federal and private agency grants.

Without the federal money, Zasloff said, the shelter will have to raise $90,000 to $100,000 a year in the community.

"We have had a need all along for more support," Zasloff said, "but now our need is critical. We are appealing to the community desperately."

Zasloff said the seven-member staff at Phoenix House has been operating on a shoestring for weeks in an effort to cut expenses. Most of the food served to homeless women and children is donated.

Despite the fund shortage, Zasloff said, there are no plans to close the shelter. "I will not sit by and allow that to happen. As far as I'm concerned, that's not an option," she said.

The shelter is operated out of a five-bedroom house in Glendale where refuge is provided for up to 18 abused women and their children at one time. The YWCA does not disclose the location of the shelter in order to prevent residents from being tracked down and harassed.

Victims of domestic violence are given shelter for six weeks while they receive counseling and assistance in finding new housing and employment.

Zasloff said the Phoenix House operates at capacity and does not limit itself to serving battered women from the city. She said victims frequently must be referred to other shelters and programs.

Zasloff said more than 1,000 women and children have received shelter since the program began in 1979, and 8,000 others have been helped through its telephone hot line, counseling, parenting classes and support groups.

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