Downtown Women's Center

Downtown Women's Center

Nonprofit

Over our 35-year history, the Downtown Women’s Center has created innovative programming focused on meeting the unique needs of homeless, formerly homeless, and extremely low-income women. When the Center first opened in 1978, it was the first and only resource for women living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. In 1986, DWC opened the United States’ first permanent supportive housing for women, a program that ha … Read More Over our 35-year history, the Downtown Women’s Center has created innovative programming focused on meeting the unique needs of homeless, formerly homeless, and extremely low-income women. When the Center first opened in 1978, it was the first and only resource for women living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. In 1986, DWC opened the United States’ first permanent supportive housing for women, a program that has since been modeled as a national prototype. DWC now offers 119 units of permanent supportive housing among our two Residences to women who are primarily elderly, mentally ill, and/or physically disabled. More than 95% of the 500 women we have served through our Residence program have remained permanently housed. We have also scaled up our housing efforts beyond our own 119 apartments by piloting our Critical Time Intervention (CTI) model with clients housed off-site. Our CTI model, a proven evidence-based program launched in 2011, provides intensive case management for individuals transitioning out of chronic homelessness, ensuring that they have the support and access to resources they need to stay housed. DWC is also committed to sharing best practices; this April, our Director of Clinical Health Services and Lead CTI Case Manager will present DWC's CTI model at the Housing California Conference in Sacramento. As the need on Skid Row has continued to grow, DWC is grateful that we have been able to expand our programming and services, offered through our Day Center, Learning Center, two Residence locations, and on-site Medical and Mental Health Center. In 2012, DWC served 4,300 women with 90,000 meals, 23,000 showers, and 6,500 case management and counseling sessions. Along with our direct service, DWC contributes to national and local policy discussions and to best practice research in service provision for people experiencing homelessness. In 2001, DWC spearheaded the Downtown Women's Action Coalition, addressing women’s policy and research needs. The coalition has since performed several needs assessments for women on Skid Row. DWC’s well-reputed history is a testament to our mission and work in the community. DWC received a Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney Commendation in 1993, a Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Neighborhood Builder Award in 2007, and "Organization of the Year" by the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2011. Several other organizations have utilized DWC as a prototype for creating services for homeless women, including Friends In Deed in Pasadena, and organizations in San Francisco, San Jose, Amarillo, Texas; and New Orleans. Finally, we attribute our long-term success to the overwhelming community support and volunteer efforts that allow us to make the greatest impact with limited resources. DWC has been recognized as a Blue Ribbon Service Enterprise by the state of California, and our model has been developed into a case study in best practices in nonprofit volunteer engagement.


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