Travel guide guru Rick Steves just gave a $4 million apartment complex to homeless women and kids who need housing.
Steves realized, early on, the importance of affordable housing, during his travel adventures (how else?) as a young man in Europe.
He described his personal backpacking trip as “Europe Through the Gutter,” a wandering teen embarking on the daily challenge of finding an affordable (i.e., free) place to sleep.With his rail pass, he’d sleep on trains, ferries, the pews of Greek churches, the concrete floors of Dutch construction projects, and in barns at the edge of unaffordable Swiss alpine resorts.
“How else would a white, middle-class American kid gain a firsthand appreciation for the value of a safe and comfortable place to sleep?”
Twenty years ago, he devised a scheme where he could put my retirement savings not into a bank to get interest, but into cheap apartments that could house struggling neighbors.
“I would retain my capital, my equity would grow as the apartment complex appreciated,” Steves explained on his travel blog. “Rather than collecting rent, my “income” would be the joy of housing otherwise desperate people. I found this a creative, compassionate and more enlightened way to “invest” while retaining my long-term security.”
The 24-unit apartment complex became began housing single moms who were recovering from drug addiction and were now ready to get custody of their children back.
“Imagine the joy of knowing that I could provide a simple two-bedroom apartment for a mom and her kids as she fought to get her life back on track.”
Recently, Steves took his personal affordable housing project one step further: he gave his 24-unit apartment complex to the YWCA. The group will now be able to plan into the future, knowing the facility is theirs.