WISEPlace received $20,000 to refurbish the gym to provide services to approximately 100 homeless women per night.

Description of how the funds will be used: Funds will be used to expand WISEPlace, refurbishing their gym to provide shelter, food, showers and services to unaccompanied homeless women from the Civic Center area, helping approximately 100 individuals per night find a safe place.

Description of Project/Program, what makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address: WISEPlace is invited to partner with Santa Ana to renovate their gymnasium, providing emergency shelter and services for up to 100 women/night.  This refuge will be known as The Emergency Center for Women (ECW) at WISEPlace.

As women are housed, new women enter the system, estimating 30 new women each month, serving 400-500 unduplicated women the first year of operation. The goal, as with current WISEPlace residents, is to assist individuals to move to permanent housing, either supportive or subsidized, giving them the first step of getting off the streets.


Describe the Organization or Project as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards-

High Impact & Life Transforming: Originally South County YWCA (1924), WISEPlace has provided care to women, children and families. In 1987, the organization opened a 30-bed transitional shelter for single women. In 1999, WISEPlace disaffiliated from national YWCA to focus solely on women’s homelessness in the community, and since then, has transformed the lives of more than 7,500 women.

The new facility will serve even more women, providing a harm-reduction program, as women on the street overwhelmingly suffer abuse. Statistically, among the homeless population, 1 in 4 are unaccompanied women.  WISEPlace is the only OC solution for unaccompanied women specifically.

WISEPlace transforms lives of approximately 90 women annually, providing safe affordable transitional housing, healthy meals, financial-empowerment curriculum and employment assistance to move women from homelessness and hopelessness to self-reliance.

They anticipate serving an additional 400 – 500 women per year. Imagine impacting 100 women every 60 days, helping them find the strength to take ‘steps to independence’.

Education: The vision for the ECW is to provide a haven, guidance, health and resources for homeless women, helping them better themselves and build life skills through education in all areas of their lives.

Measurable: This project builds on IEF’s experience and relationships, and all land is put into use at once. Annual goals including year 1:

Sustainability: Sustainability is proven through their 30-year history with the demand for emergency housing for women.  The ECW sustainability will be bolstered through a partnership with the City of Santa Ana.

Community Building: Improving the lives of individuals, helping them find strength and take steps to independence is the way to build a thriving community. Clients often return to share their stories and time, maintaining connection and helping those who find themselves in similar circumstances.

Innovative: WISEPlace is one of the first non-profits in OC to recognize the issue of homeless women and address their unique needs. Due to exceptional partnerships throughout the county and their history of serving homeless women, the City of Santa Ana reached out to partner in opening EWC at WISEPlace. 

EWC at WISEPlace is a new solution to transform the lives of homeless women. Responding to a very real local need, partnering with the community to expand crucial services in a gender-specific, trauma-informed manner is inspiring and innovative, found in every detail of the development/service plan, ensuring delivery on their promise to each woman who crosses their threshold.

Measurable: One measure of success will be the women saved from the trauma of abuse by moving to safe shelter.  On a regular basis, WISEPlace uses the county-wide Client Management Information System (CMIS), which allows them to track the number of:

  • social service referrals;
  • women sheltered each night
  • women moved to permanent housing;
  • bed nights/meals provided.

Organization’s Mission Statement: WISEPlace, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a community of housing and hope for women in crisis. Formerly the South Orange County YWCA, WISEPlace has a 90-year history of caring for the community. By meeting basic needs such as housing, clothing, physical and emotional nourishment, as well as vocational and life skills training, the WISEPlace Hotel for Women is one of the few places unaccompanied homeless women can go to begin again.