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Los Angeles County considers partnership with Homeboy Industries

Los Angeles County considers partnership with Homeboy Industries
A customer buys coffee at the Homeboy Diner, which Homeboy Industries operates in L.A. City Hall, in 2011. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County's supervisors agreed Tuesday to explore a long-term partnership with Homeboy Industries, a 25-year-old program that helps former gang members transition into a new life.

The nonprofit organization has hit financial difficulties, in part because of a dramatic reduction in government funding of its programs. The organization laid off about 40 people last fall and may have to cut another 60 jobs this year due to a projected $1 million drop-off in revenues.

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The county has given the group about $2 million in discretionary grants in recent years, according to a memo from Supervisor Don Knabe's office, but does not have an ongoing contract with Homeboy for services. The most recent grant, for tattoo removal services, expired last summer.

Knabe proposed that the county's probation department and chief executive office explore a long-term "strategic partnership" with Homeboy for services to reduce recidivism among ex-offenders.

The people served by Homeboy, Knabe wrote, "are often the very same young men and women who have been in the county's foster care system, have been in and out of our juvenile detention facilities and have been the ones that have 'graduated' to county jail or state prison, only to continue the endless cycle of violence and trauma."

The board voted unanimously to explore a longer term partnership, with the stipulation that the chief executive office and auditor controller report back on how money previously granted to the organization was spent.

[For the record: An earlier version of this post said Homeboy Industries faces a $1 million deficit. It should have said the organization's revenues are projected to be $1 million lower in 2014 than in 2013].

Twitter: @sewella

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