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Community News: South

SOUTH-CENTRAL : New Shelter to Offer More Than a Bed

August 29, 1993|SANDRA HERNANDEZ

The smell of fresh paint still lingers in Toney Chisum Jr.'s office on the first floor of the American Philanthropy Assn.'s new shelter.

Chisum, executive director of the nonprofit organization that runs two other shelters in South-Central, is taking care of last-minute details as the two-story facility, at 8770 S. Broadway, prepares for its official opening on Wednesday.

In addition to providing transitional housing for single women with children, the shelter will offer child care, counseling and educational assistance. Chisum said the organization is currently recruiting counselors to come to the shelter on a weekly basis as well as volunteers to help run a day-care center. The shelter will accommodate up to 100 women and children, who can remain at the shelter for up to nine months.

"The primary goal of the shelter is to get people back out into the community and to get them working again," Chisum said.

Chisum's drive to open a shelter aimed at helping women with children began in 1991, after the association was awarded a $368,000 state grant to help homeless parents.

The group purchased the building on Broadway from B & B Properties for $250,000 and began remodeling, but soon ran into problems.

"We had some miscommunications with the builders, and then the riots occurred and a lot of things were stolen," Chisum said, adding that tile, toilet seats and construction material were taken.

Nearly a year later, the shelter is furnished with 100 bunk beds, desks and small armoires in two open areas. Two adjacent rooms are for recreation and dining.

Chisum says the goal of the shelter goes beyond providing a bed at night.

"We realized there are a lot of single parents with children who don't have any money to get an apartment, so if we could help them get back on their feet, then they could save some money and build up to the point where they can go back out and live in the mainstream," Chisum said.

So far, the shelter has received about 10 applications, mostly referrals from church groups.

Applicants will be screened for drug and alcohol use and assessed by one of three counselors before they are accepted into the shelter.

Residents will be required to help with basic chores, and those who are able to pay will be asked to do so. For example, a woman with three children who receives $600 in state or federal aid would pay about $300 a month, Chisum said.

"We only have enough money to provide 37 free beds," he said, adding that the group estimates it will cost about $28,000 a month to operate the shelter and pay the salaries of 15 employees, including cooks, security guards and counselors.

Information: (213) 295-3707.

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