Homeboy Industries is one of this too-often-heedless city's unambiguous municipal treasures -- and it's in trouble.

Homeboy -- now a nondenominational nonprofit service, headquartered near Union Station just north of downtown -- is more of a community than it is a program, and it currently involves 8,000 young men and women who formerly belonged to about 700 gangs across Los Angeles County.

They work in its highly successful bakery and cafe, or in landscaping, solar power and other industries; they get counseling of every useful sort; and, if they choose, they even have their gang tattoos removed. The program helps them find jobs in private industries savvy enough to understand the sanity of its founder's insistence that a second chance is the least we can extend to young men and women who never got a first one.

But government and the private sources of funding on which Homeboy relies for most of its budget are cutting back as a consequence of the same downturn.

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