Improving Lives

Free Self-Help Legal Access Center Opens at the Long Beach Courthouse

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a series of sweeping reforms today addressing the County’s policies for the retention and destruction of confidential documents.

These reforms came about as a result of a legislative priority of Supervisor Don Knabe to strengthen the County’s document destruction policies to ensure that any confidential or personal information is secured and disposed of properly in all County departments and agencies.

Serious questions of existing policies came into question after an investigation by KNBC-TV in early 2006 revealed several incidents of security breeches of confidential employee records and welfare recipient client information maintained by the Department of Public Social Services. As a result of this investigation, Supervisor Knabe called for a review and reform of document retention policies across the entire County.

In providing services to the public, this County has no more important responsibility than to protect any confidential or personal records of our residents, said Knabe.

The plan approved by the Board of Supervisors today represents the most sweeping reform in document retention policy since the Board first addressed the issue in May 1958. The new plan includes policies for portable computing devices, such as laptops, policies for the handling and destruction of confidential documents in all County departments, policies for record retention and protection and outreach programs for County employees and residents who may have been the victims of identity theft.

Free Self-Help Legal Access Center Opens at the Long Beach Courthouse

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe will join Superior Court leaders this Friday afternoon to commemorate the much-anticipated Grand Opening of the Self-Help Legal Access Center at the Long Beach Courthouse.

On August 2, 2005, with the support of Supervisor Knabe, the Board of Supervisors approved the funding for this center, which will be the Fourth District’s first such Self-Help Center. There are currently four other Self-Help Centers like this one located throughout the County. Since the first facility opened in the Van Nuys Courthouse in 2000, these centers have combined to serve over 100,000 Los Angeles County residents.

The new Self-Help Center will be staffed with an attorney, paralegal and trained volunteers, and will be managed by Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS). While the employees and volunteers of the center will not be able to provide legal advice or offer direct representation, staff members will be able to provide information on preparing forms, courtroom procedures and appropriate courtroom demeanor.

"Opening this center is another landmark in our continuing campaign to enhance our outreach into the community," said Superior Court Presiding Judge William A. MacLaughlin. "We believe this center will provide critically needed services to people in the Long Beach area. Supervisor Knabe is to be commended for securing the necessary financial support to make this possible."

I am thrilled that we finally have this highly-successful program in the Fourth District, said Supervisor Don Knabe. This Self-Help Center will provide our residents, who maybe do not have the ability to pay for an attorney, with free access to basic legal resources and information.

All residents of Los Angeles County with business at the Long Beach Superior Courthouse are eligible to access the Self-Help Legal Center, regardless of income. The new hours of the center which will be located inside of the Law Library are as follows: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Grand Opening and Open House is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 21st. The Long Beach Courthouse is located at 415 West Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach.

Knabe to Dedicate Two Homeless Centers in Long Beach

On Thursday, February 9, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe will lead the Grand Opening celebrations for two new homeless service facilities in the City of Long Beach.

The first event is the dedication of the new Mary McLeod Bethune Transitional Center, a school that provides mainstream educational and health services to children of homeless families. The new 6,000 square foot campus helps many of the 800 homeless children enrolled in the Long Beach Unified School District receive the same academic opportunities that students in other local schools receive. Supervisor Knabe secured $1 million in Federal Community Development Block Grant money to help fund construction of the Bethune Center.

The second event is the dedication of a new homeless shelter, which will serve as the first permanent, year-round shelter in Long Beach. The 59-bed facility will accommodate both men and women in separate units and will include services beyond free overnight housing and meals.

Anyone staying at the shelter will be able to access an array of services, including mental health, housing assistance and job training services. Supervisor Knabe earmarked $787,000 in County homeless shelter funding towards construction and operation costs.

Both of these programs are about giving homeless men, women and children a leg up,said Supervisor Knabe. At both facilities we are giving people access to the same educational, health and social services any other resident of Los Angeles County can enjoy.

The dedication of the Bethune Transitional Center is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 9. The Center is located at 2041 San Gabriel Avenue in Long Beach.

Services at the new Long Beach Homeless Shelter begin at 12 p.m. on Thursday, February 9. The Shelter’s address is 1368 Oregon Avenue in Long Beach.

Board of Supervisors Recognizes Whittier Area First Day Coalition

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors presented a scroll to the Whittier Area First Day Coalition to acknowledge the outstanding work that the organization has done to engage the homeless issue in Whittier.

The Whittier Area First Day Coalition has a mission to help the homeless and other at-risk individuals transition toward self-sufficiency. The Coalition achieves this difficult task by providing various programs for individuals and families throughout the Whittier Area. The Job Club Program, the Recovery from Homelessness Program and the Health and Wellness Program are a few of the comprehensive programs that the Coalition offers.

The Coalition has also developed a recovery model called the Reciprocal Community Engagement Model. This innovative model was designed to give local communities a strategy to build a network of programs that creates natural interaction between people. This interaction seeks to bring the homeless out of their isolation and reintegrate them back into their communities.

With over 90,000 homeless identified across the County, local involvement in addressing homelessness is more important than ever, said Supervisor Knabe. What the First Day Coalition is doing in Whittier is a shining example for the rest of the County.