From convent to women’s residential campus - YWCA prepares to start renovations on Women’s Live & Learn Center

Center will help provide women 18-25, including single moms, with free and discounted housing

SAN ANTONIO – A former convent on the West Side could be housing up to 30 young women, some with children, within a year.

YWCA San Antonio plans to start renovations on the former St. Andrew’s convent on Castroville Road and SW 36th Street sometime in mid-June or July. The main building will be turned into a dorm that women will be able to get four years of housing - the first two years for free, and the second half on a sliding scale.

YWCA San Antonio CEO Francesca Rattray said they hope to have women move in by the end of March, or possibly even the end of the year.

Eligibility will be based on age and income, though Rattray said those won’t be hard cut offs. The group hopes to help young women between 18 and 25 who aren’t earning much. The women might be aging out of the foster care system, fleeing an abusive relationship, or be a young mother in a non-supportive home.

“If we get young women early enough, we’ll be able to break the cycle of poverty for them and prevent chronic homelessness,” Rattray said.

The women will have to commit to a job training or degree program, she said, though they’ll be able to stay the full four years even if they finish early.

One-third to half of the rooms will be enough for some of the women to bring up to two children under the age of eight, she said. The group also plans to start work on building a new childcare center on the campus in August, though Rattray said that will take longer to complete.

“It’s almost impossible to be able to not work and focus on job training or going back to school without having to worry about paying the rent or paying for child care, which is the second largest cost for many families, not just single women,” Rattray said.

The San Antonio City Council on Thursday approved a $2.3 million incentive package for the main dorm project.

Although Rattray said the YWCA doesn’t have all the funding committed for either phase, it has enough to get started.

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About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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