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Local Shelters and Self-Esteem

November 01, 1987

With any issue, it's always dangerous to make sweeping statements. Although I was pleased to see Thomas Tierney's excellent commentary "Shelter for All" (Oct. 18), there is a point that I think needs to be clarified.

In his article, Tierney stated "some assistance is given from the labyrinth of welfare entitlements and private charities, but these measures are designed for subsistence, not restoration of self-esteem." In Orange County there are shelters that are designed for restoration of self-esteem and not merely for subsistence. Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter in Costa Mesa is one such facility.

Our program is designed to take 12 families at any one time and assist them in re-establishing themselves in the community. While at the shelter they are required to establish a savings account. The goal is to save enough money for their first and last months' rent.

This has to be done in a 60-day period. Our success ratio is about 70%. We are able to provide this service at a cost of $5.40 a night per person sheltered, which we think is a very cost effective way of working with the homeless in our area.

Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter is not the only group in the county working on long-term solutions and we do not pretend to be the only answer. However, we do think that these programs are a good beginning to solving an extremely complex issue.

SCOTT MATHER

Chairman of the Board

Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter

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