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VALLEY FOCUS | Northeast Valley

Transitional Housing Complex Dedicated

January 08, 1998|DARRELL SATZMAN

The San Fernando Valley got a little safer Wednesday.

That was the view of politicians, administrators and most important, residents themselves, at a dedication ceremony for the Valley's newest shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

Harbour Community, a 36-unit transitional housing complex for families displaced by domestic violence, is the only facility of its kind in the northeast Valley.

Located in a rehabilitated apartment complex that was red-tagged after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Harbour Community was financed with a $1.7-million loan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Quietly opened in December at a location kept secret for the safety of the residents, the shelter was proposed by Councilman Richard Alarcon and will be operated by Women Advancing the Valley through Education, Economics and Empowerment (WAVE). The local nonprofit is run in part by Alarcon's wife, Corina Alarcon.

The Alarcons and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) presided over the official opening Wednesday, praising those responsible for making the shelter a reality and cautioning that much still needs to be done to help the women and children victimized by abusive relationships.

"This is a great day, a day that will change lives in this community," said Boxer, who as a member of the House of Representatives in 1994 wrote the Violence Against Women Act, increasing federal funding for domestic violence programs. "This is going to provide comfort to families whose lives have been destroyed by violence that was in many cases committed by those closest to them."

That message was conveyed dramatically by Renee, a 31-year-old mother of four boys who spent much of 1997 moving from shelter to shelter in an attempt to stay one step ahead of her former lover.

"Knowing that we will be here for 18 months has brought a lot of comfort to us," she said. "My boys have been through so much. This will let them live a normal life."

Although it is not an emergency shelter, Harbour Community is the largest transitional housing complex of its kind in Los Angeles, officials said. With accommodations for as many as eight children per family, an 18-month limit on stays and a full roster of counseling and training programs, the shelter also offers services not available anywhere else.

For information about Harbour Community, call (818) 838-9283.

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