2017 was a year of change for The Sophia Way. We questioned, deliberated, and assessed the way we did our life-saving work. What is The Sophia Way? Are we effective, with our limited resources, at getting women into housing? Could there be a better way? The quest for improvement led us to the understanding that there is a better way that would make us effective in housing more women.
In 2017 we adopted Housing First, a long-time proven approach in which people experiencing homelessness are connected to permanent housing quickly. There are no preconditions, behavioral contingencies, or other barriers. We have let go of barriers in our programs that at the time seemed like a good idea, but in the end only made our jobs easier, and not necessarily contributing to getting more women into housing.
The belief – “Everyone has a right to housing, everyone is housing ready” – now drives all of our work.
In 2017 we realized it was not just enough to house women, but to question why we are serving more women of color, more women who cannot work because of a disability or their advanced age, and more women with substance use disorder and/or mental illness.
In 2017 we understood that we have a responsibility and moral obligation to interrupt the decades of systematic oppression causing so much harm. We committed ourselves to an intentional racially equitable approach to homelessness and social justice in housing.
We are grateful to our staff for embracing Housing First to engage with and serve our women. We are grateful to our housing case managers who understood their job would become more complex as we aspired to house an increasingly challenging population with their individual barriers to housing.
We are grateful to our community – city and county governments, foundations, faith community, donors, housing service provider partners, low-income housing advocates, elected officials – who have given their support and made our transformation possible. We are grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who spoke out on behalf of people experiencing homelessness.
As we continue our commitment to Housing First and social justice, we are deeply appreciative of our community for their investment in our core and for sharing our commitment to alleviate the pain of the homelessness crisis.
Aaron Hager, Board Chair & Angela Murray, Executive Director