The Lewith Cottages: A Beacon of Hope for Senior Women

For many senior women, the journey to find a safe and supportive home can be fraught with challenges. The Lewith Cottages offer them a beacon of hope. Here, women find not just housing, but a community that supports them to rebuild their lives.

A long, tree-lined driveway leads to six small cottages scattered amidst verdant lawns. A gentle stream, Lyon Creek, flows through, adding to the serenity of the property. Built some decades back as low-income senior housing, the cottages continue to serve that purpose. The Carrie Lewith Charitable Trust in partnership with The Sophia Way (TSW), offers the cottages as transitional housing to women over 62.

The partnership is a shining example of impactful collaboration. Five years ago, the Carrie Lewith Charitable Trust was seeking a partner to provide managed resident services at its cottages and found an ideal match in TSW; their housing programs, particularly transitional housing with supportive services, perfectly aligned with the Trust’s objectives. The partnership is flourishing, providing transitional housing to four women supported by TSW’s case managers.

“We are very proud of this partnership with The Sophia Way,” says Marianne M. Jones, Executive Director of the Carrie Lewith Charitable Trust. “The professionalism and entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated by The Sophia Way in their work inspires us to continue to try to help find solutions to the crisis in housing, particularly for low-income seniors in King County.”

TSW’s transitional housing model aims to bridge the gap between living in a shelter and being fully independent. The program is designed to help the women adjust to living on their own while still having access to support services.

Each one-bedroom cottage is cozy and equipped with a basic kitchen, washer, dryer, and a spacious closet. It gives the residents a unique blend of independence and support without the burden of upkeep, which is provided by the Trust.

The women receive a comprehensive range of supportive services from TSW – from case management services to helping navigate various challenges and ensuring they have access to necessary resources. This includes assistance with budgeting, securing health insurance, applying for food stamps, and finding permanent housing.

Lucy Lincicome, a case manager at TSW, is responsible for supporting the women. She meets with each woman at least once a month and provides practical assistance and emotional support, helping them navigate their circumstances with dignity and hope. This support is vital, as they have some form of disability, ranging from physical health issues to dementia. The biggest hurdle for many of the women, according to Lucy, is accepting the changes that come with aging. Health issues and disabilities often force them to adjust their lifestyles considerably.

Tina has dementia and is grappling with the reality of possibly having to stop driving, a significant change for someone who has been independent all their life. After losing her home to credit card debt and living in her car, Tina came to Sophia’s Place before moving to the cottage. She has been rapidly declining, and Lucy has been helping her make changes, such as getting meals delivered because she couldn’t remember to eat. Lucy has also been supporting Tina to accept that she will need to move to a senior living home with extra support. Tina is on the waiting list for two homes, and Lucy is hopeful that it won’t be long before she finds a place.

The acceptance process is often difficult and is compounded by the lack of social support systems that other seniors might have.

“The intersection of aging and homelessness is a serious barrier to securing stable housing. Many older women lack support and knowledge of resources. This is a major reason for the high number of seniors in our shelter—they simply have no one to help them. There is a critical need for assistance and guidance tailored to their specific circumstances,” says Lucy.

Happily, there is a strong sense of community among the residents. They support each other in times of need, such as when one resident’s car broke down and another stepped in to provide transportation. This camaraderie is a testament to the resilience and strength of these women, who have faced numerous challenges yet continue to support one another, fostering a sense of belonging and community.

The Lewith Cottages truly offers its residents a chance to rebuild their lives and regain their independence.

As one resident beautifully put it, “I’m so thankful to have a place to call home and to have the joy of cooking my meals.”

Through collaborative efforts like this, The Sophia Way hopes to create meaningful change and a brighter future for many more women in need.