Letterhead

PUBLIC AND MEDIA AFFAIRS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2003
CONTACTS:Eric Symons, 619-533-5318
Maria Velasquez, 619-533-5725
David Cohen, 619-531-2675

City Programs Honored With Peacemaker Awards
From San Diego Mediation Center

Cortez Hill Family Center and Family Justice Center Honored

SAN DIEGO --The San Diego Mediation Center has announced that the City of San Diego will be the recipient of several of the organization's annual Peacemaker Awards. The awards will go to City Attorney Casey Gwinn and Police Chief David Bejarano for founding the San Diego Family Justice Center for victims of domestic violence and to the Community and Economic Development Department and its partners for creating the Cortez Hill Family Center, a transitional housing facility for homeless families.

The awards acknowledge projects and programs that offer creative solutions to crises and conflict in our society and adhere to the philosophy that "while conflict is inevitable, it is manageable." The 15th annual Peacemaker Awards are part of the Mediation Center's broader "Days of Dialogue," four days of free workshops teaching conflict resolution techniques from March 24-28. The awards ceremony will be held Friday night, March 28, at the Hilton San Diego.

The Peacemaker Award to City Attorney Casey Gwinn and Police Chief David Bejarano recognizes their shared vision in founding the San Diego Family Justice Center, the nation's most comprehensive "one-stop shop" for services to victims of domestic violence. United States Attorney General John Ashcroft recently called it "a model for the country." The 30,000 square foot facility brings together all available services to victims of domestic violence including the Police Department's Domestic Violence Unit; the City Attorney's Prosecutorial Domestic Violence Unit; and staff from more than 30 community-based social service agencies, including battered women's shelters, legal clinics, pregnancy services programs, and supervised visitation programs. The Center also houses a non-denominational chaplain's program and a groundbreaking Forensic Medical Unit.

The Peacemaker Award for the Cortez Hill Family Center jointly recognizes the Community Services Division of the City's Community and Economic Development Department, J. Peter Block Companies, Bosa Development, Centre City Development Corporation, and the YWCA of San Diego for their combined efforts. The Cortez Hill Family Center houses up to 150 parents and children for a period of up to 90 days, offering case management and temporary relief through the provision of food, shelter and other amenities. Before the Center opened its doors in December 2002, the program operated for a year out of a former retail center on the corner of 12th Avenue and Broadway.

The City raised nearly $1.9 million to fund the San Diego Family Justice Center for the first two years of operation, and was unanimously supported by the Mayor and San Diego City Council. The money came from private foundations, federal community development block grant funds, corporate sponsorships, and the local business community.

The Cortez Hill Family Center was made possible through a partnership among the City of San Diego's Community and Economic Development Department, Housing Commission and Facilities Maintenance Department; Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC); California Department of Housing Community Development; YWCA of San Diego County, and Golba Architecture. Additionally, the J. Peter Block Companies at the El Cortez Hotel was instrumental in garnering support for the facility among the surrounding community. Total cost ofacquisition and rehabilitation budget for Cortez Hill was $5,065,000.

For information about the San Diego Family Justice Center and how it serves victims of domestic violence, call 619-533-6000. For more information about the Cortez Hill Family Center and other City homeless services, contact the Community and Economic Development Department at 619-533-4233.

For more information about the Peacemaker Awards, contact the San Diego Mediation Center at 619-238-2400.

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