The Edmonds, Wash.-based television host and author, perhaps best known for Rick Steves’ Europe, purchased a 24-unit complex in 2005 and partnered with YWCA and Edmonds Noon Rotary to operate and support the housing program for the past 12 years. Trinity Place in Lynnwood, Wash., provides stable housing for women and children experiencing homelessness in Snohomish County. It is valued at about $4 million, according to one published report.
The original plan was to will ownership to the YWCA but instead Steves decided to make the donation while he is alive. “In these unstable times, you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “By giving this now, YWCA gains the certainty that comes with ownership and is in a better position to plan for their future,” Steves said.
Homelessness continues to be a challenge as housing prices in the region continue to rise. Snohomish County has experienced a 50-percent increase in unsheltered people since 2013 and more than 2,400 students in the county are reported to be experiencing homelessness, according to YWCA.
Last year, YWCA served 60 women and family members at Trinity Place. In addition to transitional housing, the donation will ensure YWCA can continue to provide direct services, including employment and educational assistance, legal advocacy, and on-site mental health care.
Seattle, Wash.-based YWCA of Seattle | King | Snohomish reported $31.1 million in total revenue for the fiscal year ending 2015, the most recent year available. The organization provided assistance of about $5.2 million in fair market value assistance via shelter/rental assistance to more than 6,200 recipients, according to the annual Form 990.
YWCA Executive Director of Snohomish County Services Mary Anne Dillon said if it were not for Trinity Place, some of the women served by it would be homeless. “Having reliable housing options like Trinity Place is not only crucial – it’s a matter of life and death for families in our community,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s particularly loving or saintly to house people, I just think it’s enlightened,” Steves said in a press release announcing the donation last week. “If our country truly wants to be great, we need creative thinking connected with our hearts,” he said. “And it’s my hope that love and compassion can trump values of crass commercialism, greed, and ‘winners’ beating ‘losers.’”