ANAHEIM : Volunteer Builders to Enlarge Shelter

The city's only homeless shelter is being renovated for free by local builders who are more than doubling its capacity.

Members of the Building Industry Assn.'s HomeAid program have been working on the Anaheim Interfaith Shelter for about a week. On Thursday, leaders from the volunteer businesses, the shelter and local government came together to celebrate at the converted apartment building, which will see its capacity increased from 24 beds to to 56.

The work is valued at $125,000, and will be completed this summer.

"This is a dream come true," said Mary L. Hibbard, chairwoman of the shelter's board of directors and minister of Anaheim Methodist Church. She said that when various churches and civic groups bought the 30-year-old building in 1988, it was obvious that major renovations would eventually be needed. "But we did not have the funding, and when this opportunity was offered to us by the Building Industry Assn., we couldn't believe it."

The shelter, at 626 N. Pauline St., provides free housing and food to families who have had to leave their homes because of economic problems. The shelter also gives the families a 60-day "breather" to look for work and get their problems behind them, Hibbard said. She said that 70% of the families who have lived in the shelter still have at least one member working and are living independently 18 months after leaving the program.

Brian Norkaitis, HomeAid's chairman and regional president of the William Lyon Co., said that Anaheim Interfaith is the 12th Orange County homeless shelter the group has remodeled or renovated in the past three years. In the process, the group has donated $2 million in work and materials.

"The original idea was that the construction industry could be of help in the area where it is most knowledgeable, which is housing," Norkaitis said. He said that the program originated in Orange County and is now being copied by the building industry associations in Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Kevin E. Kirk, regional president of Kaufman & Broad Home Corp., the lead developer in the Anaheim project along with Lincoln Properties, said that about 15 subcontractors--including a plumber, drywall contractor and roofer--will eventually donate time and materials to the shelter.

Norkaitis and Kirk said that because the recession has hit the local building industry particularly hard, it is sometimes difficult to find subcontractors who can donate their work.

"But we're going to keep doing this and try to help," Kirk said.

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