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The Founding of DWC


442 S. San Pedro St., 
Los Angeles, CA, 90013
(213) 680-0600

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The Downtown Women’s Center is a nationally recognized pioneer of permanent supportive housing and the only resource in Los Angeles that is exclusively dedicated to serving the unique needs of homeless and very low-income women in downtown Los Angeles’s Skid Row community. Permanent supportive housing is a successful, cost-effective combination of affordable housing with services that help people live more stable, productive lives. This housing model improves stability and reduces the use of high cost public services.

Founded in 1978 by social worker Jill Halverson and her client turned friend, Rose, DWC will provide a permanent home to 119 formerly homeless women by the end of 2012- making us one of the largest providers of Permanent supportive housing for women in the country. 95% of the women we house never return to homelessness- a high success rate for ending homelessness. Learn more about Jill and Rose’s friendship here.


We proudly reopened our Los Angeles Street home on November 29th, 2012. The former Day Center transformed into our MADE by DWC Resale Boutique. The Residence provides an additional 48 units of permanent supportive housing.

Our San Pedro Street home has 71 units of permanent supportive housing and a Day Center offering meals, personalized case management, computer literacy, government benefits advocacy, support groups, job counseling, and health and wellness classes. The building is silver LEED Certified and received recognition from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Medical and Mental Health Center, a collaboration with JWCH Institute Inc. and the first of its kind for women on Skid Row, completes the comprehensive care offered by DWC. Onsite medical services such as mammograms and preventative disease services decrease the barriers for women to access healthcare.

DWC is also home to MADE by DWC, a café and gift shop where women from the community learn job skills and create handmade products. MADE by DWC was created to help break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income and homeless women discover their talents and develop their skills through job training. One hundred percent of proceeds go directly to supporting the programs and services at DWC.

DWC is making a major impact in the community.

• Nearly 4000 women overcoming homelessness and poverty were served by DWC in 2013


• 200 women a day visit our drop-in Day Center for basic needs, healthcare, and education

• 100,000 delicious and nutritious meals were served last year, with more than a third prepared by volunteers

• 119 homeless women now have a home at one of DWC's two permanent supportive housing Residences


• 95% of the women we house do not return to homelessness



  • DWC was named California’s Nonprofit of the Year receiving the Governor’s Volunteering and Service Award. The Office of the Governor and CaliforniaVolunteers recognize DWC’s extraordinary ability to engage community volunteers in ending homelessness for women. To get involved, click here.

  • Angelia Pettiford, Senior Resident Manager, was awarded with Southern California Association of NonProfit Housing (SCANPH)'s Bright Lights "UNSUNG HERO" Award.


  • DWC reopens the  original site on Los Angeles Street bringing additional housing and job opportunities to the women of the Skid Row community with the MADE by DWC Resale Boutique

  • DWC CEO Lisa Watson is named a Top 50 Women Changemaker by Los Angeles Magazine

  • DWC’s Project Home was named the Central City East’s 11th Annual Downtowners of Distinction Award 2012 by the Downtown News

  • NCJW/LA honored DWC with its first Community Partnership Award


  • DWC opens our Medical and Mental Health Center at Project Home Over 300 women receive medical services through our collaboration with JWCH Institute, Inc.

  • DWC opens MADE by DWC, a social enterprise featuring a café and gift boutique offering fresh food, organic coffee and tea, and handmade products created by the participants of the Center

  • Chief Executive Officer Lisa Watson is named a KCET Local Hero, an initiative that recognizes activists, educators, community leaders, and visionaries doing critical work in communities

  • DWC is named Nonprofit Organization of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal

  • DWC receives the California Quality in Design Award from the Corporation for Supportive Housing for Project Home

  • Project Home is awarded a National Preservation Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation

  • Lisa Waston is named a 2011Sabbatical Awardee by the Durfee Foundation – an honor that is acoompnaied by a one-time contribution to introduce the DWC Professional Development Fund


  • DWC opens Project Home, providing a permanent home for 71 formerly homeless women, a women’s medical and mental health clinic, job training, and supportive services for 4300 homeless and extremely low-income women throughout Skid Row.


  • DWC celebrates our 30th Anniversary, sealing a time capsule at our July birthday party and then hosting a 30th Anniversary Gala event that raised over $260,000 to support our vital programs for homeless women

  • DWC’s Volunteer Program grows to more than 700 active volunteers supporting the Center’s direct service, advocacy, and fundraising efforts

  • Executive Director Lisa Watson is named a Stanton Fellow by the Durfee Foundation and embarks on a project to develop a social enterprise model within permanent supportive housing that will offer both a job-training opportunity for residents and a revenue source for the housing provider

  • Senior Director of Programs & Community Education Monica Martinez was selected as a Women’s Policy Institute Fellow by the Women’s Foundation of California


  • DWC launches our a $35-million Capital Campaign for Project Home, announcing lead gifts of $5 million from Wallis Annenberg and $1 million from Bettina Chandler. (As of 11/30/08, $26.88 million has been raised toward our goal.)

  • Friends In Deed in Pasadena opens a drop-in Day Center modeled on the Downtown Women’s Center, joining organizations in San Francisco and San Jose, California, Amarillo, Texas, and New Orleans, Louisiana, who have utilized DWC as a prototype for creating services for homeless women

  • DWC was granted the Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Neighborhood Builder Award

  • Senior Director of Development and Finance Molly Moen was nominated for the Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Women Making a Difference” Rising Star Award

  • DWC – along with the Downtown Women’s Action Coalition – conducts the third Downtown Women’s Needs Assessment.


  • DWC doubles our case management capacity, launches a domestic violence prevention program, and opens a monthly women’s health clinic on-site

  • Volunteering at DWC was named the “Best Way to Help the Homeless” by the Downtown News

  • DWC’s Project Home was identified by the Mayor, Councilmember Jan Perry, and the Community Redevelopment Agency as a priority project for affordable housing in Los Angeles

  • Board President Carolyn Williams and Executive Director Lisa Watson were each nominated for the Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Women Making a Difference” Best Executive Award

  • Executive Director Lisa Watson was awarded the Los Angeles County Commission for Women’s “Woman of the Year” for her work to end the healthcare crisis among the homeless


  • DWC develops a national study of best practices in homeless women’s services and launches effort to create a nationwide network to alleviate women’s homelessness via model programs


  • DWC’s Volunteer Cooking Club was named “Best Philanthropic 2 Hours” by the Downtown News

  • Continuing Services Director Mina Kedar was named a Sunshine Lady for her work serving victims of domestic violence

  • DWC – along with the Downtown Women’s Action Coalition – conducts the second Downtown Women’s Needs Assessment.


  • DWC augments our supportive services, offering intensive case management and counseling

  • DWC also spearheads the development of the Downtown Women’s Action Coalition, an organization that addresses policy issues affecting homeless women and conducts research focusing on women’s needs on Los Angeles’ Skid Row.

  • DWC – along with the Downtown Women’s Action Coalition – conducts the first Downtown Women’s Needs Assessment.

  •  DWC expands our programs to include health prevention, education, and screenings – including  the only breast and cervical cancer screenings on Skid Row


  •  The DWC Literacy Center opens to provide individual instruction to meet the educational needs of homeless women


  • DWC opens the doors to our Residence, featuring 47 unique single-unit apartments – the first permanent supportive housing program for women in the US


  • DWC’s comprehensive programming, offering both meals and supportive services, becomes the prototype for social service agencies serving homeless women across the United States


  • Jill Halverson founds DWC, Skid Row’s first Day Center for homeless women


As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Downtown Women’s Center relies upon public support to fulfill our mission. To demonstrate our sound management and fiscal responsibility, we’re proud to share our financial information.

2013: Form 990 / 2013 Audited Financial Statements
2012: Form 990 / 2012 Audited Financial Statements
2011: Form 990 / 2011 Audited Financial Statements

2010: Form 990 / 2010 Audited Financial Statements

2009: Form 990 / 2009 Audited Financial Statements

2008: Form 990 / 2008 Audited Financial Statements


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