PACOIMA — San Fernando Valley leaders announced the start of construction Wednesday on a shelter for victims of domestic violence which will be the largest of its kind in Los Angeles County.
Harbour Community, a $1.7-million transitional shelter for battered women and their children, will provide long-term housing, for up to 18 months, and an array of social services to help them put their lives back together.
The project is a joint venture of Women Advancing the Valley through Education, Economics and Empowerment, or WAVE, and the city's housing department.
Janet Crook, WAVE's executive director, said a battered woman tends to stay with her abusive partner because of fear, lack of money and the feeling that "there's no place to go."
"That's what we're going to give her, so she doesn't have to live, and her children don't have to grow up, in that kind of environment," Crook said.
Crook spoke at a news conference attended by City Councilman Richard Alarcon and housing department officials, held at the offices of San Fernando Valley Legal Services, a nonprofit organization that will provide legal aid for residents of the shelter.
There are two emergency shelters for battered women in the Valley, run separately by Haven Hills Inc. and Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles. Those facilities are for the immediate, short-term needs of battered women and children and can only house them for about 30 to 60 days.
Haven Hills and Jewish Family Services also have small transitional shelters, with about 62 beds combined. Harbour Community, with about 110 beds, will be the largest long-term women's shelter in the Valley, and the entire county, said Melissa Hilario, a WAVE board member.
The shelter will offer parenting classes, job training and placement, educational opportunities, nutrition classes, fitness programs, financial management courses, computer training, medical aid and legal assistance, including help in obtaining restraining orders, organizers said. It will be open to women who have suffered physical, verbal, sexual, psychological and other forms of abuse.
Payment will be determined on a sliding scale. The facility will require about $300,000 a year to run, which will be raised from government grants and private funding, WAVE officials said.
The facility's exact location will remain confidential to protect women living there. It will be housed in a 39-unit apartment building somewhere in the northeast Valley that has been unoccupied since the Northridge earthquake and is now being refurbished and converted for use as a shelter. Construction is expected to be completed by spring.