Women Helping Women

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022
For over 40 years, the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) has been the only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women vulnerable to and currently experiencing homelessness.

Of the more than 66,000 unhoused people living on Los Angeles County’s streets, over 20,000 are women. 

One of them was Vikki Vickers, who spent four and a half years on the streets of Santa Monica. She says she was lucky, living next to a group of homeless Vietnam Veterans who looked out for her. Now, 11 years later, having worked helping women experiencing homelessness herself, Vickers says the “stories are horrific.” 

But Vickers and hundreds of other unhoused women have found hope and healing at the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC), a multiservice agency that changes lives while shining a light on what is possible in the midst of the rolling humanitarian crisis playing out on L.A.’s streets.

DWC case managers provide comprehensive services ranging from placing women in housing to finding employment.

Beyond the services it offers are the people Vickers met there, and the person that meant the most to Vickers was DWC’s CEO Amy Turk. 

“The thing with Amy and DWC is that there is no closed door,” Vickers says. “She is there to support you and all the women there.”

Turk and the DWC team are always listening to women like Vickers to ensure that their programs are guided by the womens’ needs. That is a large part of why the nonprofit has a retention rate of 98%, ending homelessness for hundreds of women. 

“Core to our mission is really listening to the voices of women experiencing homelessness and designing all our services around that,” Turk says. “This trauma-informed approach is really looking at what has happened to you, and how we can meet you where you’re at.”

Beyond owning 119 supportive housing units in Los Angeles’ Skid Row Community, housing hundreds more across L.A. County,  and serving some 5,700 women annually, DWC also runs a social enterprise cafe, resale boutique, and handmade product line, MADE by DWC.  

“It’s an ‘employment program’ but I observe so much self-esteem come out of it that I see it more like a mental health program,” Turk says. “We’re not trying to career path candle makers or coffee baristas unless they really want to pursue that. But I hear women say, ‘I didn’t know that I could do this’ or ‘I needed this job training program, it gave me time to regain my confidence.’” 

For her part, Vickers has surely regained her confidence. She has advocated for state level homelessness legislation, and is currently leading a new program in South L.A. connecting seniors to services so that they can stay in their homes. 

“I get to solve these problems for people and it feels so good,” she says. “Like they [at DWC] did for me. I had no house, I was mentally ill, but they made appointments for me and helped me.” 

For Turk and the team at DWC, this sentiment is baked into their core values. It’s all about women helping women.


Downtown Women’s Center

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(213) 680-0600 ×2801
Chief Executive Officer: Amy Turk


The Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) envisions a Los Angeles with every woman housed and on a path to personal stability. Its mission is to end homelessness for women in greater Los Angeles through housing, wellness, employment, and advocacy.

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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

As a devoted advocate for the empowerment of women, I find tremendous purpose in supporting the Downtown Women’s Center. Witnessing the unwavering strength of the women it serves, my heart swells with gratitude for the opportunity to play a role in their journey towards healing and self-renewal. The upcoming opening of Oatsie’s Place, a permanent supportive housing site named for my dear friend and ardent DWC supporter, Marylouise Oates, fills me with immense joy and hope. Oatsie’s Place will serve as a haven, where each woman can embrace her worth, unlock her potential, and discover newfound independence.
Andrea Van de Kamp
DWC Advisory Council Member

Your Support Can Help Get Every Woman Housed

The increasing rates of homelessness for women in Los Angeles County have been outpacing men since 2013. Yet, resources to provide for these women still remain limited. Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) is using your generosity to change lives. 

In the next year, DWC is opening two new residential developments, one in North Hollywood and one in Van Nuys. With your help, up to 100 more women will have safety and security, receiving case management services and peer support. For $15,000, you can fund all the services to support a resident for an entire year and empower a previously unhoused woman to start a new, more empowering chapter of her life. 

Key Supporters

Elizabeth Karatz Faraut
Marylouise Oates and Robert Shrum
Scott and Diane Weingarten
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Vera R. Campbell Foundation
Joanna Perlman
Crawford Family Foundation
Eleanor and Glenn Padnick
Eileen and Bob O’Leary
Silton Family Foundation
The Ronus Foundation
Blue Shield of California Foundation
Shelli Herman and Stewart Gleischman
Sara and Sam Brenner
Wendy Lees and Tom Boyle
Kristen Stewart
The Rose Hills Foundation
The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
Maria Bamford
Wurwand Foundation