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Help finding home: The Sophia Way and Imagine Housing are leading the way

Interviews with Molly Judge - Imagine Housing’s Fund Development Director, and Sujata Agrawal - The Sophia Way’s Senior Manager, Communications/Engagement

Article by Bree O'Brien

Photography by Courtesy of the organizations

Originally published in Bellevue Lifestyle

Tell us about Imagine Housing’s history.

It was formed in 1987 by St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church members who saw an unmet need for affordable housing in East King County. St. Andrew’s Housing Group was formed as an independent non-profit to preserve and build affordable housing on the Eastside. Their first affordable housing development, Andrew’s Arms, has been open since 1992 in Issaquah.

The organization changed its name to Imagine Housing in 2011 and is no longer formally associated with the Church. Today, we have 15 properties and provide 639 affordable housing apartments. 

Who do you serve and how?

Imagine Housing serves individuals earning 60% or less of Area Median Income annually. Our residents are moms and kids, veterans and the elderly. They may be disabled, impacted by health issues or recovering from homelessness. Most importantly, they’re neighbors who need a connection to community resources and to feel a sense of belonging.

We provide permanent affordable housing with support services – individuals and families are able to live in our communities for as long as needed, and have access to an on-site Case Manager who ensures they have the tools and supports they need to move forward.

What is something people may not know about homelessness? 

Approximately 1 out of 30 children in the US is homeless, and 20% of people experiencing homelessness in King County are children, but much affordable housing can’t accommodate families. Nearly half of Imagine Housing’s affordable apartments are two-bedrooms or more so we are uniquely positioned to support families.

How can people support Imagine Housing’s mission? 

A charitable contribution directly impacts the 1,394 people who call Imagine Housing home.  You can make a donation online, volunteer, and advocate in your community for policies that advance affordable housing issues.

Tell us about The Sophia Way’s history.

It was founded in December 2008 by the late Helen Leuzzi, a philanthropist and women's advocate. She saw a critical gap in the community - there were no shelters specifically for women, and the number of women without homes on the Eastside was growing.

Who do you serve and how?

The Sophia Way supports women on their journey from homelessness to safe and stable living.

Programs include:

· Helen's Place, 24/7 emergency shelter for 40 women

· Sophia's Place, extended-stay shelter for 21 women

· Sophia's Day Center, drop-in center

· Vehicle Outreach, for people living in vehicles or on the streets

· Transitional Housing and Rental Assistance

· Permanent Housing with Supportive Services

Case managers provide individual care, connect women with services, and empower them with skills and resources to help them live a life of their choice.

What is something people may not know about homelessness?

People experience homelessness because of economic conditions such as lack of affordable housing, high cost of living, low-wage jobs, lack of access to health care and mental health treatment, and more. Nearly 70% of women who come to the shelters cite domestic violence as a factor for losing their homes.

Addiction is an issue for both housed and unhoused, and can be a result or cause of homelessness. Drug use and addiction require treatment, and King County lacks enough treatment beds.

How can people support The Sophia Way’s mission?

· Financial gifts

· Provide a meal

· Donate toiletries and other necessities from the organization’s Amazon wish list

· Volunteer time or skills

· Advocate for the homeless

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