America has long promised itself as “The Land of Opportunity.” For many, it has kept that promise and provided opportunities for wealth, fame, and stability. For many more, however, that opportunity can be hard to come by, especially if it’s needed in the form of a second or third chance.
For a small group of single mothers in Lynnwood, WA, many of them are separated from their children and facing issues such as addiction, mental health crises, and economic instability. For them, opportunities were growing scarce.
However, back in 2005, an opportunity came knocking in the form of Trinity Place, an apartment complex that partnered with the YWCA to provide free housing to single mothers and their children as they rebuilt their lives. Owned by world-renowned travel guide and author Rick Steves, the complex provided a place for women to get back on their feet.
“Rather than collecting rent,” Steves wrote on his blog, “my ‘income’ [was] the joy of housing otherwise desperate people.”
This arrangement worked for over a decade before Steves decided to make some changes in 2017. Rather than owning the property and allowing the YWCA to make use of it, Steves decided to give the YWCA the property outright, explaining in his post, “Now the YWCA can plan into the future knowing this facility is theirs.” This donation was valued at $4 million! By doing this, Steve and the YWCA will ensure that the 24 units on site are filled with tenants who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to afford stable housing.
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Trinity Place is now the permanent home to Project Reunite, a “permanent supportive housing program in Lynnwood [that] works to help parents experiencing homelessness and engaged in chemical dependency treatment reunite with their children,” according to the YWCA’s website. “Residents are supported by on-site family advocates and meet with them weekly to create plans for self-sufficiency, identify and overcome barriers to permanent housing, and set goals for education, employment, financial security, legal issues, mental health, and more.”
“I don’t think it’s particularly loving or saintly to house people,” Steves told KING5 News. Instead, he views it as a return on his investment, and a way to put the property to good use. When he donated the complex in 2017, Steves also noted that he was inspired by recent events in US politics, and a worrying turn to what he called a “greed-is-good ethic in our government,” where charities are “bracing for a new forced austerity under our government of billionaires.”
Those that live at Trinity Place call it a godsend — a lifeline that they needed when they were looking for a chance to rebuild. And while it’s not a solution to all their problems, Steves and the YWCA are able to provide them the one thing that they were unable to find anywhere else: Opportunity.
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