Downtown Women's Center

Los Angeles, California

Award Type: Honor Award

The Downtown Women's Center Project restored and renovated a dilapidated, six-story historic shoe factory to provide housing and offer supportive services to homeless women on Los Angeles' Skid Row.

On Los Angeles’ Skid Row, a dilapidated shoe factory has been transformed. It’s now permanent housing for 71 of Skid Row's neediest women. In 2005, a residential program for elderly, disabled and mentally ill women acquired the Elias Katz Shoe Factory for $1 from the City of Los Angeles. An extensive retrofit brought the 1926 building up to code for residential use. It soon had updated plumbing, a reinforced frame, and state-of-the-art accessibility, fire and safety systems.

Thoughtful interior design converted the open-floor warehouse into warm and inviting studio apartments for permanent residents. There’s a rooftop garden, a daytime drop-in center, and the area's first medical and mental health clinic for uninsured women. The rehab is in line for LEED Silver certification. The city put a venerable older building back into productive use, and some of Skid Row’s neediest citizens got a new home.