The centre is great. It provides cheap supported residential accommodation for homeless women in need of it. There are two retail outlets selling soaps, candles and craft items produced by the women in the centre in conjunction with volunteer designers, developing soft and vocational skills in the women who participate, supporting the running costs of the centre and paying the women for their work. Many of whom have been out of work for decades or indeed never worked a regular job.
There's a cafe and a canteen where homeless women can come and get a hot meal and a dorm where a few can bed down during the day. It's safer to stay awake at night on the streets. The centre was set up in 1978 by Jill Haverson, a social worker who worked in Skid Row in the 70's and 80's and her client/friend Rose.
Skid Row is grim. The level of homelessness and poverty is shameful, as it is across the city. The fact that the richest most powerful country in the world can't provide for vulnerable and mentally ill citizens is a disgrace. It's president's day here so a good time to remind people of Ronald Regan's
closure of mental hospitals causing this explosion in homelessness.
It's a reminder that we need to fight really hard back in the UK to maintain the fragile safety nets we have created to prevent destitution, not that they catch everyone.
People who are homeless in California at least have the minor blessing of relatively warm winters. I spoke briefly to a guy in Venice in the phone shop on my first day, I think he was sleeping rough. He said if you are sleeping out this time of year in New York you don't survive. I wonder what the mortality figures are with the weather this year.