30 Years of Shelter for Women


A ‘home’ for women in crisis

On March 18, 1987, the Hotel for Women opened its doors at the then YWCA of South Orange County. This was a project born out of the realization that the population of homeless women in and around Santa Ana was growing rapidly. There was a lack of shelter available for women in crisis, and the streets were becoming home for too many. This was the beginning of a journey that would eventually lead to the founding of WISEPlace, a transitional housing and empowerment program for unaccompanied homeless women.

The Hotel for Women

Constructed atop the existing gymnasium, The Hotel for Women was built as a 20-room, 30-bed shelter. Some rooms were built as single-occupancy units with a bathroom en suite. The remainder of the rooms were built as double-occupancy units, with access to dormitory-style bathroom and shower facilities. There is a large living room and patio, accessible to all residents, that truly embodies a feeling of home. Each room is fully furnished with comforts of home.

Becoming WISEPlace

It became obvious to the Board of the YWCA; simply allowing homeless women to shelter under their roof was not the solution to the growing problem of homelessness in the area. For over 8 years, the YWCA operated The Hotel for Women, but it was now time to do MORE. It was time to provide an education. Kathleen Davis Bowman was hired to become the first (and only!) Executive Director of WISEPlace, a transitional housing and empowerment program that would provide wrap-around services to help homeless women become independent. WISEPlace disaffiliated from the YWCA and since 1999, WISEPlace has been operating as a full-service program for unaccompanied homeless women.


Commemorative Tile Program

To honor our milestone anniversary, we will be offering you a chance to honor loved ones, or leave your own mark inside our historic facility. Act quickly as space is limited. Please click here for details and the order form. We will accept order forms through May 31, 2017.


Shelter Shower

March showers bring an entire year of ‘flowers!’ Throughout the month of March, consider showering our residents with things that make them feel like a woman. Help them to feel comfortable. Give them something that’s fun! We’ll gratefully accept any donations, but in March, consider:

— Brand new undergarments (bras and underwear)
— Pretty new linens
— Comfy blankets
— Perfume
— Giftcards to movie theatres
— Scented room plug-ins