Downtown Women's Center


The Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) provides permanent supportive housing and a safe and healthy community fostering dignity, respect, and personal stability, and it advocates ending homelessness for women. In the local Skid Row community, the DWC is the only resource that is exclusively for and singularly dedicated to serving the unique needs of this population.

The Center’s services include meals, personalized case management, an on-site medical clinic, health workshops and screenings, computer literacy, government benefits advocacy, support groups, job counseling, and self-expression classes.

The majority of the women who drop in to the DWC Day Center live on the streets, in encampments, or in night-to-night shelters. The Day Center provides a respite from the rigors of street life in a nurturing and safe community environment. On average, 140 women a day visit the Day Center where three meals are served seven days a week. Women also come to use clean, private bathrooms and showers, rest in daybeds, use laundry facilities, make phone calls, secure a mailing address, or get a fresh change of clothes.

The DWC’s Residence provides a stable community environment with supportive services assisting formerly homeless women to live in safety and dignity. Residents typically share certain characteristics - a mental illness, physical or emotional disability and circumstances -  that have led to homelessness.

Residents come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, as reflected in the wide range of educational levels and life experience in the community. Some of the women have never held a job as a result of mental and/or physical illness or having relied on husbands or other family members for support. Others have advanced degrees and progressed in professional degrees before misfortunes, such as illness or domestic violence, led to their homelessness.

The DWC also has developed social enterprises. MADE by DWC empowers women to discover talents and develop skills through vocational opportunities, including a cafe and gift boutique, resale boutique, and handmade products. MADE also helps to generate economic and social capital that supports the DWC’s programs.

The DWC is making a major impact in the community, as demonstrated by these statistics:

  • 200 women visit the drop-in Day Center each day
  • 119 women live in the DWC Residence
  • 85,000 meals are prepared and 32,400 showers are taken annually
  • 300+ women receive medical services through the DWC’s Medical and Mental Health Center
  • 4300 women were served in 2011, a 71% increase over 2010

Selected Awards:
Let Us Now Praise Famous Women
In recognition of Lisa Watson
Los Angeles Magazine, 2012

Nonprofit Organization of the Year
Los Angeles Business Journal, 2011

California Quality in Design Award
Corporation for Supportive Housing, 2011

Local Hero Award
Awarded to Lisa Watson
KCET, 2011



Lisa Watson
Interim CEO

Downtown LA

Area Served: 
Southern CA

# of Employees: 

(Donations + Earned Income)

Guidestar Report