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Opening in December : Program Plans to House 24 Agencies in 1 Center

Times Staff Writer

A community services building that will house 24 social-service organizations is scheduled to open in Thousand Oaks in late December, officials said Monday.

Although the $2.6-million Conejo Human Services Center is under construction in Thousand Oaks in Ventura County, it will also serve nearby Westlake Village and Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County, said Fred Wilson, president of Community Conscience, a nonprofit agency.

The center, paid for with public and private funds, will house 19 of the agencies rent-free, said Wilson, whose group has coordinated funding for the “Under One Roof” project. Only five government agencies will pay rent, he said.

The agencies that do not pay rent can “free up part of their budgets for expanded social-service programs,” he said.

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Rent Skyrockets

Wilson said his group decided to sponsor the project because area rent has skyrocketed in recent years and many social-service agencies have been forced to use “big chunks” of their budgets to offset the costs. “It was requiring them to move to . . . where the rent was cheap but where it was hard for their clients to be properly served,” he said.

Clients who need assistance from more than one agency will be able to walk across the hall instead of having to drive across long distances once the center opens, Wilson said.

The center, at 80 Hillcrest Drive, will house five government agencies and 19 private organizations, such as Catholic Charities, the Conejo Free Clinic and Youth Employment Services.

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Offices of the Social Security Administration, state Employment Development Department, and Ventura County Housing Authority, Probation Department and Public Social Services Agency will be housed in the building.

Main Tenant

The Social Security Administration, the center’s main tenant, will occupy about a quarter of the 2-story, 15,000-square-foot building, he said.

“We’ll be moving some agencies in in about three weeks,” Wilson said. “By the end of the year, they should all be moved in.”

About $1.7 million has been allocated for the center. Corporations and individuals have contributed $1.075 million of that amount and the rest has come from federal grants to the cities participating in the project: $500,000 from Thousand Oaks, $75,000 from Westlake Village and $50,000 from Agoura Hills.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich presented Agoura Hills’ share of the money Monday. The federal government distributes such grant money to counties, which decide how it is allocated to cities.

Wilson predicted that the rest of the money for the center will be raised by the time it opens in late December. No exact date has been set for the opening.


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