Vikki was homeless for nearly five years living behind an old library in Santa Monica.
“It was the safest place I could find in this situation.”
Diagnosed with schizophrenia and distanced from her relatives, she lived in a constant state of paranoia and fear, with little to no access to medical services.
There were days when she would stay put in front of a wall, not wanting to move for fear of not knowing what was real and what was a hallucination.
“The worst thing about living on the street was that no one wanted to look at me. I always felt dirty. I felt like the sidewalk where I was sitting."
Vikki’s health reached a critical point one day. With the help of a local shelter, she received the medical attention she needed. She heard about the Downtown Women’s Center and applied for housing with the help of her case manager.
Vikki moved into her new home on Nov. 1, 2012.
She describes the experience as “nothing short of a miracle.”
The moment Vikki moved in to her new apartment, she received the critical wraparound services she needed to stabilize in housing.
“Having the Women’s Health Center at DWC means that I got the medical care I need instead of putting it off. I am comfortable here, so I don’t feel anxious or embarrassed.”
“My primary doctor is here, so if I get a cold or the flu, this is where I come,” she said. “I started getting my psychiatric care here – before I would have to take the bus all the way to the edge of the city.”
A Note about DWC’s Health and Wellness Program: DWC addresses the holistic health needs of homeless women, many of whom are older and more vulnerable to the dangers of life on the street. DWC provides preventative services, education, mammograms and other medical and mental health support services.
“It’s so amazing that people do this for women.”
“I don’t think there’s another place like DWC,” says Vikki.
“DWC has given me a life that I didn’t have before – I was given an apartment key that changed my life. Four and half years ago, I could hardly say my name. Now I live at DWC and attend services here almost daily. I have received medical help, therapeutic help, and social normality.”
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Lower photos by: Erica Kawamoto Hsu