Since our founding in 1908, YWCA of San Diego County has served women, girls, and families through safe housing, employment assistance, leadership development programs, social and recreational activities, and services to increase economic opportunity and stability. Dedicated to remaining responsive to the needs of the local community, YWCA enhanced and expanded services during significant moments in American history, including women's suffrage, the civil rights movement, and improvement of labor conditions. Building upon a legacy of advocacy and protection of equal rights, YWCA is committed to promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all people. Today, our mission is to empower women, men, and children to break the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness, and achieve self-sufficiency.
During World War I, YWCA constructed a recreation center at the northwest corner of 11th Avenue and C Street in order to meet the needs of servicemen. The facility had a swimming pool, gymnasium, and club rooms where sailors could enjoy recreational activities during their free time. After the war, and with the help of a bequest from Captain Benjamin Frees, YWCA purchased the remainder of the block on C Street and launched a campaign to build a permanent home. Ellen Browning Scripps, a retired newswoman and philanthropist, was the second largest contributor to this campaign. Designed by Frank Stevenson and C.E. Decker in 1926, the historic building’s architecture reflects the Spanish Renaissance made popular by the Panama-California Exposition.
In 1978, YWCA opened the first regional emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their families to address the unmet need in the community.
Later in January 1999, Dr. Barbara DeAngelis received a call from "Becky" on the Jeff and Jer radio show. Becky was trapped in an abusive relationship and was afraid for her life. She had three days to find shelter while her boyfriend was out of town — without a job, money or shelter of any kind. Within 24 hours, listeners raised $43,000 to help Becky and her son escape the abuse and begin a new life. Inspired by the outpouring of support from the community, YWCA renamed our domestic violence program in honor of Becky and constructed a new transitional housing facility for survivors facing similar situations.
Today, YWCA is one of the largest providers of domestic violence services in San Diego County, and one of the only resources for male victims. Our 30-day emergency shelter is also the only facility in the region that accepts clients at all hours of the day and night.
In response to an increased number of single, homeless women living on the street, YWCA opened our Passages program in 1982. Today, clients focus on obtaining permanent housing and employment in the 12-month transitional housing program.
By the mid-1990s, YWCA recognized an increasingly number of families within the homeless population. In partnership with the City of San Diego and Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC), YWCA opened a new 150-unit facility for homeless families in December 2002. Today, the interim housing program is funded in part by Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program funds provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the City of San Diego.