Health is a top concern for many women on Skid Row. Homelessness takes a substantial toll on physical as well as mental wellbeing, and research shows that women who are experiencing homelessness, particularly those who’ve been homeless a year or longer, face disproportionate risks for health complications. These conditions only exacerbate as women age, and research shows there continues to be a demographic shift toward older women on Skid Row. A lack of adequate housing and health support increases the likelihood that women in their 50s and 60s will live with health conditions not typically seen in the housed population until their 70s or 80s. What’s more, for many women, health complications are likely compounded by experiences of trauma, such as physical or sexual violence.
Recognizing the need for a healthcare model that addresses current health concerns and creates widespread improvements in community health, the Downtown Women’s Center joined several partner organizations to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation, or SCALE Initiative. The SCALE Initiative seeks to equip communities with skills and resources to accelerate their health improvement journeys, fostering the spread of good ideas between communities through relationship building, peer-to-peer networks, and formative evaluation.
Between 2014 and 2016, DWC participated in one of 22 selected SCALE communities in the nation, the Women of Skid Row project, which convened a steering committee in Los Angeles to implement a chronic disease management and prevention initiative for homeless and formerly homeless women. The steering committee then implemented a 12-month intervention program, Women for Wellness, for homeless and low-income women living with diabetes in Skid Row.
Following the program’s successful culmination, we are thrilled to announce its results! For more information about the SCALE Initiative, program results, and next steps, download our full report here. To see photos and hear stories from the women who participated in the program, visit the project’s Live Story page here.