apartment building
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
April 8, 2024 ·  4 min read

Man Gave $4 Million Dollar Apartment Complex To Let Homeless Women And Their Children Live For Free

Rick Steves earned millions from his European travel guides and series. However, he is not one to enjoy living large while so many people suffer in poverty. So he bought an entire apartment complex to help homeless women and children. He donated the $4-million complex called Trinity Place to the YWCA, and the apartments could house 24 people. It has become a safe place for women, mostly single mothers, where they could receive guidance and get back on their feet. 

Rick Steves’s Apartment Complex for the Homeless

Rick Steves purchased the apartment complex in 2005 and worked to tidy the place up for it to be suitable for low-income families.

“Twenty years ago, I devised a scheme where I could put my retirement savings not into a bank to get interest, but into cheap apartments to house struggling neighbors,he wrote on his blog.  “Rather than collecting rent, my ‘income’ would be the joy of housing otherwise desperate people.” [1]

He partnered with the YWCA and the Rotary Club of Edmonds to renovate the apartments, with some additional help from the Gates Foundation and the local government. Then mothers and their kids were able to move in. From 2005 to 2016, Trinity Place was fairly full. Originally, Steves planned for the complex to be his ‘retirement egg nest,’ but until he retired, other people should enjoy the space. Then, in 2017, Steves officially gave the complex to the YWCA. His next step was to inspire others. [2]

Working with the YWCA and the Rotary Club of Edmonds, we publicized this creative way of putting a fortunate person’s retirement nest egg to work in a powerful way in hopes that others would be inspired to do the same in their communities,” Steves wrote.

Some of the women in Trinity Place were separated from their children due to their unfortunate situations, such as drug addictions. They fought to get their lives back on track. Steves’s apartment complex allowed homeless women to reunite with children who have been placed in foster care.

Donating to Stop Climate Change

This is not the only charity project Rick Steves is involved in. 

During the man’s extensive travels, he sees the effects of climate change everywhere he goes, from droughts in Ethiopia to snow melting in the Swiss Alps. He admits that the travel industry adds to these issues, including his own company. 

Therefore, he donates $1 million every year to organizations combating climate change. This program is named Climate Smart Commitment. Essentially, he donates $30 per his customers; according to experts, that amount could lessen a traveler’s impact on the environment. Since the company gets about 30,000 customers per year, that amounts to about $900,00, which is rounded up. 

It’s not an issue of can we afford it,” Steves said. “If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment.” [3

So far, the money goes to Project Concern International, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America World Hunger, and Bread for the World.

How to Be Happier

Although the apartment complex for the homeless project began in 2005, it continues to help people until this day. It’s heart-warming to know that there are good people in this world who want to ease others’ hardships. Similarly, Steves hopes other multi-millionaires would follow his lead to help those less fortunate than they are.

Everyone says if you consume more, you’re happier,” he said in a video interview. “But that’s not the mark of a very thoughtful person.”

Instead, he decided to make an “investment” in helping people and the community. And nothing is more priceless than improving people’s lives. He recommends people should “consume vicariously” to achieve happiness with their wealth. Meaning, the pleasure of riches is truly from helping others, not trying to consume more by oneself. [4]

“The gap between rich and poor in our country continues to widen,” he wrote in his blog post. “And I believe needs — such as affordable housing — will only increase as budget cuts are implemented. Organizations like the YWCA will need to pick up the slack. If our country truly wants to be great, we need creative thinking connected with our hearts. And it’s my hope that love and compassion can trump values of crass commercialism, greed, and ‘winners’ beating ‘losers.’”

Keep Reading: I’ve slept in cardboard boxes, vans and trucks. Now I live with my three dogs in a 25-foot sailboat


  1. “Travel, Budget Beds, and the Homeless.” Rick Steves Blog.
  2. “Travel guru Rick Steves gives $4M apartment complex to YWCA.” Kiro7. Colleen West. April 18, 2017 
  3. “Rick Steves to give $1 million yearly to stop climate change.Herald Net. Stephanie Davey. June 6, 2019
  4. “Rick Steves’ charitable investment with unexpected dividends.” Seattle Times. April 20, 2017