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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Downtown Women's Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Housing Support, Human Services, Women, Women's Centers

Mission: DWC's mission is to provide permanent supportive housing and a safe and healthy community fostering dignity, respect, and personal stability, and to advocate ending homelessness for women.

Target demographics: Women

Direct beneficiaries per year: 207 women to secure housing, a 146% increase from 2015

Geographic areas served: Los Angeles, CA

Programs: Through the Housing First model, we house women who have experienced chronic homelessness in our 119 on-site apartments and through our community-based housing program. We recognize homelessness as a public health crisis. Understanding the compounding challenges of homelessness and poor health, we take a holistic approach to women’s wellness. For women living on the streets or in night-to-night shelters, our drop-in Day Center provides a respite from the rigors of the street while also providing essential services. Women living in Skid Row face many barriers to employment. DWC's education and job readiness resources aim to break the cycles of unemployment and homelessness for women. DWC is the only local Veterans Program that works exclusively with homeless female veterans and their children. We provide case management, federal housing vouchers, and supportive services.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience doing service hours at this organization is amazing. They are very welcoming to you and they make you feel at home. They learned my name and every time I brought my service hours in they made me feel great about doing so. I brought a service hour sheet with me and they signed it right there and I had no problem with the approval of the hours. This is an absolutely great organization and they truly help the women in that area get fed. They feed them breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. I highly recommend doing your service hours at this women's shelter.

Donor

Rating: 5

As part of a group that has provided grants to DWC, I felt that it was time to actually visit and learn more about their programs, which I did the other day. I was completely blown away by the wrap-around services they provide to the community of homeless women in the area - from meals to showers to housing to mental health services to job training and more. This is an outstanding organization that deserves to be supported and acknowledged for the excellent work that they do.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been to the Downtown Women's Center on several occasions, and am part of a Giving Circle that has contributed to this wonderful organization. You can't help but be humbled and moved by the work that happens at the DWC, and the impact that they have on so many women's lives. I am a proud supporter, and certainly attest to this organization being a GREAT NONPROFIT.

Donor

Rating: 5

The Downtown Women's Center is one of the most impressive nonprofits in Los Angeles county. They offer a home on skid row to countless homeless women. The programs they provide such as job training and services such as mammograms are unique and there is a reason they are so well-regarded nationally. Please donate or volunteer.

Donor

Rating: 5

A fabulous tour, but a heartbreaking story that our government is letting so many people down. I want to continue working and supporting DWC as well as fighting a government that seems so out of touch with the real issues of people.

Donor

Rating: 5

Utterly amazing and inspiring team working to feed, clothe and provide medical services and showers to over 8,000 women living on skid row in Downtown Los Angeles.
So proud to be able to give to this worthy organization serving the most vulnerable women in our area.

Donor

Rating: 5

It truly is inspiring to see the work that the Downtown Women's Center is doing. The safe haven they provide for women of Skid Row, the hope they provide through health services and training programs, and the extraordinary mentoring and support they provide to get women on their feet and employed.

Donor

Rating: 5

DWC is doing an exemplary job of servicing the overwhelming needs of homeless women on Skid Row. Providing food, shelter, healthcare, showers, comfort, career counseling, job placement and every wraparound service, they are doing their part to help the people of our city.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Downtown Women's Center is a transformational organization that impacts women on the most basic and fundamental level. The staff are second to none and the Board deeply committed to their important work. DWC is a leader in the fight against homelessness and at the very top of their game when is comes to permanent supportive housing. I cannot speak more highly or with more conviction about the work DWC does on Skid Row and beyond.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at the DWC for almost two years now that I am retired from fulltime work. I come in on Wednesdays to help with donations sorting for several hours and then to help in the kitchen before, during and after lunch. I have helped out a few times as a representative for the DWC at public events, talking to people about DWC and various volunteer opportunities. I am also learning to give DWC tours at the San Pedro site. The volunteer orientation and training I had was thorough and helped me understand more about DWC and the women who are served here. I have found all the staff to be very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Most importantly I have enjoyed meeting, working with and learning from women who are residents at DWC, participants in DWC training programs and helpers in the kitchen from the Day Center. I highly recommend contacting the DWC to learn more about its mission and programs and to volunteer in some way. Come and visit! There are many ways to volunteer and opportunities are offered not just during the day, but in the evenings and on weekends too.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at DWC for the past 3 1/2 years. I absolutely love how passionate the staff and volunteers are here. I love all the different outlets and help this center offers to women in need.

My friend and I created an art workshop every other Saturday that gives anyone who wants to participate and outlet to release stress and tap into there creativity. I truly love seeing the ladies who take the workshop gain confidence and a happy memory while creating art.

1

Client Served

Rating: 1

This place is not worth one star.
This women center is for staff and volunteers social and economic advancement. Homeless women who need housing clothes or resources get nothing but exploited and treated like dogs or cattle. Homeless women are "fronted off" in front of volunteers and people who donate food and money then staff keep everything for themselves. Most people are fooled by the grinning staff but they should be investigated because staff is corrupt, practice nepotism and are stealing from the government through grants then keeping everything for themselves then they threaten to kick homeless women out of shelter if they ask for clothes or housing.
They lock the door during breakfast and lunch as a way to control embarrass and disgrace the hungry women who are outside begging to get in. If homeless woman need shoes staff will yell at her loudly in front of everyone and tell her there are no shoes (it makes the homeless woman look like she is begging) then staff tell her she must fill out form to get shoes and it could take weeks. Then staff will say they only give shoes to women who walk in bare footed.
Clothes are constantly donated to the downtown women center and homeless women must sit and watch while staff take all shoes and new clothes for themselves and leave rags for the homeless women to pick through. Cases of meat are delivered to the shelter every day yet the homeless women are never served meat. The supervisor over the kitchen never wear gloves while preparing food and regardless of how much food is prepared by volunteers or donated -- staff never allow homeless women to get a second plate. Staff treat homeless women like trained dogs to make themselves look good in front of volunteers and people who donate. You will notice the "great reviews," are coming from volunteers not homeless women. The relationship between staff and homeless woman is the oppressor and oppressed. There are homeless women who have gone to downtown women center for years and are still homeless. Who do you believe the downtown women center is helping? The staff look at homeless women with hate in their eyes as if homeless women existence is inconveniencing them. Staff attitude is-----if homeless women don't like how they are treated at DWC then they don't have to be there.

2 Lisa2345678

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with the DWC's Cooking Club program for six years. A group of people get together one evening, everyone brings ingredients, and cooks a meal for around 75 people to be served at lunch the next day. It's fun and it feels like I'm doing something specific and useful for people. I've also learned some great cooking tips. I recently got trained as a Kitchen Leader to help the DWC host even more Cooking Club groups. The DWC is a great place, which provides so many important resources for homeless women, including showers, P.O. boxes, a health clinic and computer classes.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Please note that Charity Navigator does not fully reflect all that was happening at the Downtown Women's Center in 2009 -- most notably, the fund-raising for and construction of an expanded home for the organization. Now open, the building renovated with proceeds of DWC's 2009 capital campaign has increased DWC's permanent housing from 47 to 71 units, added a medical and mental health clinic, and provided approximately 75% more space for Day Center programs, including meals, shower facilities, workshops, and case management. In January 2011, the first full month that the building was open, nearly 6400 meals were served, already more than twice the number served in January of the prior year.

While the larger site has allowed DWC to greatly expand its programs, the millions of dollars raised and used for the site's renovation are not reported as a program expense. However, the cost of raising money for the renovation was reported as a fund-raising expense. As a result, 2009 fund-raising expenses appeared high compared to program expenses and DWC's rating was downgraded from 4 stars to 3 stars. However, capital campaign fund-raising expenditures in 2009 raised funds to help provide a much larger building, ultimately allowing DWC's programs to serve far more women and serve them better.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering more years than I can remember. I have helped make meals and have them delivered. This is a great organization that uses its resources wisely. Everyone is so appreciative of the work that I do and the women and staff are so kind. They really treat you so well that it makes you want to give your money and your time. I also like that all women are welcome in the community and that they treat each woman with so much respect and help them find housing, jobs, reunite with families, counseling and so much more.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Downtown Women's Center is one of those places that the minute you walk through the doors, you know you're in the right place. The organization provides a warm loving spot for the women of Los Angeles' skid row to gather and be cared for. It's an amazing organization with an amazing staff and amazing volunteers who support the incredible women of skid row.