LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A Pacoima residential program that helps homeless mothers manage mental health illnesses, gain stable housing and find employment is the recipient of a $300,000 grant for renovations, officials announced on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services received the grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to complete renovations of Via Avanta, a therapeutic community for women with serious mental illness and substance use disorders who often have children in kin or foster care.

“We are incredibly grateful for the Keck Foundation’s support,” says Didi Hirsch’s President/CEO Dr. Kita S. Curry. “The grant allows us to improve Via Avanta’s children’s areas by creating a nursery for infants and toddlers and a classroom and playroom area that supports healthy growth and school readiness.”

The grant supports the final phase of a $2.3 million project to finish renovating the 22,000-square-foot complex.

Usually homeless when they enter Via Avanta, mothers and children up to age 6 participate in programs that promote deeper and healthier bonds and aid the women in their recovery.

Via Avanta — “the way forward” in Spanish — has been a haven for women with drug and alcohol problems since the 1970s and was one of the first programs in California to accept women for substance use treatment without requiring them to separate from their children.

As more and more seriously mentally ill and homeless women began entering the residential program, Didi Hirsch won the support of former LosAngeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to convert the facility into a dual-diagnosis treatment center.

Didi Hirsch also launched Project 60 Women & Children, a Via Avanta program that aims to reduce family homelessness by addressing untreated serious mental illness in mothers.