YWCA Santa Monica/Westside will permanently close on June 30.
The organization announced its impending departure to staff on Feb. 26 and to the public on Feb. 29 citing a persistent funding shortfall.
“Over time, community needs and funding priorities have shifted. During the last few years, we have explored many options that might allow us to continue to operate and fulfill our mission, but in the end it became clear that our operation was no longer sustainable. We are proud of the exceptional staff who have served our community well. We are grateful for our amazing community of participants and supporters, and we will miss you. All of our programs will continue through June 30, 2016, and we hope that you will continue to take advantage of the services we offer until then,” said a letter signed by interim executive director Judy Spiegel and board president Anne-Marie Spataru.
YWCA operates on a franchise model. Each local branch is a standalone non-profit with its own board of directors. All fundraising and policy decisions are made at the local level and it was the local board that ultimately decided to shutter the facility.
YWCA Santa Monica opened in 1929. It focused on eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Programs included early childhood development; K-12 life skills and academic enrichment; transitional housing and education; young adult networking and career-building; parent support; and personal and professional renewal.
Spiegel said addressing the transitional housing, a program that provided housing and life skills to disadvantaged young women, is a top priority.
“One of our high priorities is the young women in the transitional housing and working program,” she said. “We will not close that program until ever girl is placed in a facility or situation of her choosing, that is one of our highest priorities in making sure that happens.”
Spiegel said expenses simply outpaced revenues for the YWCA. She said they evaluated across the board rate increases for all programs but found doing so would drive away too many participants. At the same time, grant money has become more competitive, donations have dropped, and attempts at merging with other local agencies fell through.
“During the last few years, we have explored many options that might allow us to continue to operate and fulfill our mission, but in the end it became clear that our operation was no longer sustainable,” said the announcement letter.
According to Spiegel, some of the YWCA programs might find homes at other organizations or branch out into standalone offerings, but nothing of the YWCA organization will remain. Programs that can’t find alternate homes will cease.
The organization employs about 32 full and part time staff. The Santa Monica branch owns its property at the corner of 14th and Pico. Spiegel said the property would be for sale in the near future and money from the sale would be donated to other charity organizations that share the YWCA’s mission.