Mother and daughter sitting outside.

A beacon for local women

YWCA Columbus has offered shelter to women and families in Central Ohio since 1886. See how the program is evolving to meet their needs today

For 135 years, YWCA Columbus has served women, girls and families in Central Ohio. Today, YWCA Columbus helps women and their families get on their feet. This can start with emergency shelter and long-term housing for those recovering from addiction, living with disabilities, experiencing mental disorders or navigating job loss and low wages. The organization also offers on-site child care, assistance securing permanent affordable housing and the resources to find a job that pays family-sustaining wages. “We provide our families with a steppingstone to overcome barriers to housing,” says YWCA Columbus Family Center Director Sonya Todd.

The YWCA’s 50-room emergency shelter in northeastern Columbus offers families experiencing homelessness a safe place to sleep and three meals a day. Residents are paired with advocates for help finding their next best housing options. YWCA Columbus provides a holistic approach to housing, offering additional resources such as eviction prevention, supportive services, financial literacy and legal aid. “When services are easily accessible, it decreases the stress of an already overwhelming situation,” notes Todd. In 2020, the Family Center served more than 1,200 people, including more than 700 children.

To support women who are recovering from addiction, experiencing mental disorders or who are disabled, the YWCA’s Women’s Residency Program provides long-term housing in a 91-unit building. In addition to attending wellness and recovery-support workshops, residents are encouraged to take classes in budgeting and financial literacy and use the Employment Resource Center (ERC). “The ERC provides career coaching, resume building and an interdisciplinary approach to housing that considers the residents’ needs and their ability to be self-determined,” says Todd. Once residents have gone through the program, YWCA Columbus educates, empowers and encourages them to become active members of the community.

In 2019 and 2020, YWCA Family Center saw 251 individuals gain employment during their stay. Now, thanks to support from Bank of America, as part of the bank’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, the organization is expanding its workforce development program. “We’re grateful for the generosity of Bank of America and our community partners who invest in supporting YWCA Columbus to empower women and families in our community to live independently, with peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all,” says YWCA Columbus President and CEO Christie Angel.