Renovations are underway at the new home of Santa Monica-based Common Ground Westside, a nonprofit that provides education and resources to people who have contracted or have a high risk of contracting HIV.
The new space at 2401 Lincoln Blvd. is about the double the size, however, drop-in services for homeless youth were sent packing farther south out of city limits and into the more welcoming arms of Venice.
The youth program was at the center of community objections to the organization’s relocation from the corner of Bay Street to Cedar Street.
Santa Monica residents, businesses and organizations had said the youth program would be unwelcome at the new location. They claimed it would increase crime close to three area preschools and a continuation high school.
"We heard the neighbors loud and clear," said Common Ground's Interim Director Jeff Goodman.
The youth services relocated to an undisclosed spot in Venice last week. Goodman said he couldn't promise that the relocation there would be permanent. Common Ground will continue to provide services where they are most needed, he said.
"This program has been drawn the attention of many in the community and arguably may have been the single largest point of contention related to our relocation," he wrote in the email to community leaders last week. "So we are hoping this will be well received news by all."
Santa Monica critics believe many of Common Ground's younger clients are from the Venice area. Goodman said the organization will conduct a needs assessment this year to better understand its demographics.
During construction, Common Ground's other services—which range from booking doctors appointments to providing counseling and food and clothing—are being offered temporarily at partnering agencies' locations.
Its needle exchange program, however, will occur offsite permanently.
Goodman anticipates opening the new headquarters in as soon as 11 weeks.
"We're very excited about it," he said.