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OPCC Dedicates Service Center:

On November 16, 2006, OPCC (formerly Ocean Park Community Center) dedicated its Cloverfield Services Center, a 22,000 square foot housing facility at Cloverfield Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica. This is the first of two new facilities to be constructed by OPCC as part of a major expansion of services to the homeless on the Westside. Apart from veteran-specific beds, this building is the first addition of beds to the homeless service system on the Westside in the past decade, and comes at a time in which the number of homeless people has increased significantly.

Hundreds of community supporters attended the festivities, and speakers included John Maceri, OPCC Executive Director; Zev Yaroslavsky, County Supervisor; Richard Bloom, Santa Monica City Councilmember; Darlene Lasher, the Richard F. Dwyer and Eleanor W. Dwyer Fund and OPCC board member; Charles Smith, Executive Director of the George Hoag Foundation; and Reverend James Conn, former mayor of Santa Monica.

Funding for the two facilities is being raised through OPCC’s $19.5 million capital campaign – From Homelessness to Hope – which will conclude in December 2007. Major funding has been provided by the City of Santa Monica, with additional support from the State of California, County of Los Angeles and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Santa Monica-based George Hoag Family Foundation has provided $1 million towards the project, and six separate grants of $500,000 each have been provided by The Ahmanson Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, the Richard F. Dwyer-Eleanor W. Dwyer Fund, the W.M. Keck Foundation, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and the Weingart Foundation.

“These generous donations will greatly enhance four of our already proven programs: the Access Center, Shwashlock, Daybreak and Safe Haven,” says film producer Nigel Sinclair, who is co-chairing OPCC’s capital campaign. “We are very grateful to those who have given so much to these projects that will further self-sufficiency for homeless and mentally ill individuals in our community.”

The Cloverfield Services Center is the new home of Daybreak Shelter, a 30-bed transitional housing program serving mentally ill homeless women, and Safe Haven, a 25-bed housing facility using an innovative “Housing First” model to serve homeless men and women with mental illness, addictions and physical disabilities. Both programs serve “chronically” homeless individuals who have been homeless for one year or longer, and in many cases, people who have been homeless for much longer periods.

Women from Daybreak Designs were in attendance at the dedication and showed the crowd one of their quilts. Embroidered on it were the words “Daybreak. Where everyone knows your name.” Daybreak Designs, a client-run business cooperative, now has a permanent home at the Cloverfield facility, where the women can sell their jewelry, cards, fine art and craft products throughout the year. The women earn 70 percent of the revenue, with 30 percent of the proceeds re-invested into the business.

At Daybreak Shelter, OPCC is helping women achieve futures filled with hope. This nine-month transitional program is meant to secure permanent, independent housing through a host of programs that include mental health counseling, life skills training, housing assistance, basic medical care and social and recreational activities. Ninety-seven percent of women who have completed the Daybreak Shelter program and been placed in permanent housing have retained their housing, an extraordinarily high success rate.

“We are committed to making our community the best that it can be, and to do that, assisting the most disadvantaged of our residents is crucial,” says John Maceri, OPCC Executive Director. “Many individual donors, corporations and foundations, and the City of Santa Monica and other public agencies have stepped forward with a substantial portion of the funding, and we greatly appreciate their partnership with us in this important project.”

The new facility is one of only two shelters in all Los Angeles County that will offer a Safe Haven program. This model program, combining housing with intensive supportive services for chronically homeless individuals, is accepted as a best practice by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and by homeless policy organizations throughout the nation.

OPCC’s 10 programs, on eight Westside locations, provide food, clothing, emergency services, transitional and permanent housing, mental and medical health programs, battered women and children services and in-depth preparation for independent living for over 8,000 homeless and low-income men, women, at-risk teens and children each year.

Los Angeles County contains the largest population of people living below the poverty line of any metropolitan area in the U.S., and, at the same time, it is one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in which to live. In a 2005 study issued by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), statistics showed that an estimated 88,345 people in Los Angeles County go homeless on any given night, and that over the course of a year, 224,000 individuals will be homeless at some point. Los Angeles has considerably more homeless residents than any other region in the United States. There was a 28 percent increase in the number of homeless individuals on the Westside between 1999 and 2005, the highest percentage increase of any area of the County.

For more information, call 310.264.6646.

Margaret Molloy contributed to this article.

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