El Centro de Amistad Purchases Building

After more than 20 years of providing services to youth and families from rented facilities, El Centro de Amistad finally has a home it can call its own.

The nonprofit organization, which provides counseling, tutoring, referrals and other free or low-cost services to poor Valley residents, has purchased the building that houses its San Fernando satellite office and plans to expand its operations there, El Centro officials said.

United Parcel Service gave a $100,000 grant to help El Centro buy the $340,000 building at 568 S. Brand St.

El Centro, which was founded in 1977, also receives support from the city and county of Los Angeles, United Way and several corporations.

"It's really exciting for our staff and our clients," El Centro spokesman Angel Perez Jr. said. "We currently operate in about 1,400 square feet in San Fernando but the building is actually 5,400 square feet. Being able to use the entire space will make a big a difference."

Perez said it will be six months to a year before other businesses move out of the building and El Centro can begin its expansion.

He said plans calls for a comprehensive "one-stop service center," including a family learning center, tutoring facilities, referral service, conference room and a health center.

El Centro will continue to operate out of leased satellite offices in Van Nuys and Winnetka and its main office in Canoga Park, officials said.

For more information on El Centro, call (818) 898-0223.

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