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See our history

How we got here

Seattle in the early 1980s was in the midst of a housing crisis. Federal cuts to subsidized housing, the deinstitutionalization of mental health, and downtown revitalization overwhelmed the city with “displaced” people.

At the time, three Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace were working in a local shelter. After watching women move in and out repeatedly, they devised a different program to break the cycle of homelessness.

Jubilee Women’s Center opened in a former Capitol Hill convent in the fall of 1983, named for the Sisters’ 100th “Jubilee” anniversary, also in 1983. Believed to be Seattle’s first transitional home for women, Jubilee offered residents a supportive housing community in which to heal from crisis and domestic abuse and get back on their feet. With an 18-month program—much longer than the typical three-month emergency shelter stay—women had more time to stabilize and work toward independence.

During the next three decades, Jubilee continued to adjust its programs and services in response to the changing needs of clients and community. Jubilee became an independent 501(c)(3), ramped up private fundraising efforts, and added Seattle’s first learning and technology center dedicated to homeless women. Jubilee also renovated facilities, moved to a holistic model of care, and acquired two additional residences, including a former ministry of the Sisters of Providence in 2014. Jubilee’s fourth residence opened in 2019 and is dedicated to program graduates.

Today, Jubilee’s program serves approximately 60 women each year with affordable community housing, holistic support services, on-site care managers, and a focus on employment preparation to advance each woman on her path out of poverty with a living-wage job and a home of her own. Jubilee serves an additional 2,000 low-income women with free referrals, job and life skills classes, clothing boutique, and computer lab.

Watch a video about the history of Jubilee.