The donation of an apartment complex for struggling families is an inspiring move by Edmonds travel guru Rick Steves.
Travel guru Rick Steves is suggesting a new type of adventure that he staked out in Lynnwood.
Steves recently gave the YWCA an apartment complex that he bought years ago as an investment, then converted to serve struggling families on the brink of homelessness.
This is a remarkable gesture that resonates as Puget Sound grapples with a homeless crisis and President Trump proposes slashing social-services programs.
In 2005, Steves formed a unique partnership with the YWCA and Edmonds Rotary to improve and operate his Trinity Place apartment complex as supportive housing for families.
The 24 units in Lynnwood have since helped 61 impoverished families, including 125 children, get back on their feet and avoid homelessness. Most current occupants are single mothers seeking to get their children back after overcoming addiction.
This was more than just philanthropy. It was also a creative and compassionate retirement plan. Steves benefited as the value of his property increased, but even more so from the pleasure he derived from helping those desperately needing a home.
Steves, 61, has now made enough money with his Edmonds-based travel business that he no longer needs the asset to retire comfortably. So he recently gave the $4 million complex to the YWCA Seattle King Snohomish outright.
The gift was likely to happen eventually. But Steves said in an announcement that he moved the timetable up after Trump’s election and “the rise of a new, greed-is-good ethic in our government.” He wanted to support social organizations and nonprofits “bracing for a new forced austerity under our government of billionaires.”
A single apartment complex won’t end the homeless crisis but a blend of quality services and innovative approaches around the region might.
Trinity Place worked so well for everyone involved that Steves is now spreading the word, hoping to inspire others to seek the ultimate return on investment that he received.
His insider tip for people considering this trip: learn to consume vicariously.
This approach enabled Steves to acquire more wealth than he would have from the 8 percent return a year his assets might have gained otherwise. The wealth is in the form of pleasure taken from helping others.
So instead of extra interest he doesn’t really need, Steves netted “the beautiful feeling of helping struggling people have that wonderful feeling of a roof over their head.”
“If you can learn how to consume vicariously, you can be happier by your wealth,” he said by phone from Sicily.
After Steves returns, he and Maria Chavez Wilcox, the YWCA chief executive, will brainstorm ways to advise and help others considering a similar journey.
Let’s hope this travel guide is also a best-seller.