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Day center for homeless families is approved

July 18, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — A coalition of homeless advocates applauded a Planning Board decision this week that paves the way for a day center sponsored by the upstart Family Promise of the East San Fernando Valley.

The 4-1 vote Monday moves the nonprofit organization closer to taking its first family off the street by converting one apartment in an existing four-unit complex into a day center to be used by homeless families and residents of on-site affordable rentals.

The local outfit, operating within a system of more than 130 independent affiliates in 39 states, plans to transport intact families from local host congregations — where they could potentially stay four times per year for one week at a time — to and from the facility.

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Located at 2406 N. Naomi Street, the vacant, 43-year-old apartment building with five parking spaces is owned by the Burbank Housing Corporation and undergoing significant interior and exterior enhancements. The board first approved the change of use, followed by a conditional use permit for the newly established purpose.

Board member Emily Gabel-Luddy was careful to differentiate the 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment from a homeless shelter.

“It’s not a shelter,” she said, before confirming an applicant screening process with members of the nonprofit’s board. “It’s helping people get on their feet.”

The approval was met with applause from a significant group of community and religious stalwarts, all of whom visited the City Hall chambers to speak in support of the program and proposal.

A handful of neighbors approached the dais offering their blessings between speeches by a pastor, rabbi and former city mayor.

Former Mayor Marsha Ramos submitted a petition to the board that was signed by neighbors she called and visited.

“I got the impression that there was a lot of misunderstanding,” Ramos said. “So I went out to the neighborhood this afternoon and walked it and indeed there was a lot of misconception about what was going to happen in that particular apartment.”

After explaining in Spanish that the unit would be used as a day center by vetted families, most of whose members spend the better part of the day in school or looking for jobs and housing: “There was really a compassionate response from the neighborhood,” she said.

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