Travel guru Rick Steves gives away $4 million apartment complex for housing homeless women and children

SEATTLE — Travel book writer and TV show host Rick Steves has given a $4 million apartment complex in Lynnwood, Wash., to the YWCA for housing homeless women and their families.

“One of my pet social causes has long been affordable housing,” Steves wrote on his travel blog, posted April 13. “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. I would retain my capital, my equity would grow as the apartment complex appreciated, and I would suffer none of the headaches that I would have if I had rented out the units as a landlord. Rather than collecting rent, my ‘income’ would be the joy of housing otherwise desperate people.”

Steves, whose company is based in Edmonds, Wash., said he eventually came to own a 24-apartment complex in Lynnwood that he provided it to the YWCA for housing single moms who were recovering-drug addicts and getting custody of their children back. It is called Trinity Place.

“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,” he wrote.

But then he decided to take it a step further.

“With the election of our president and the rise of a new, greed-is-good ethic in our government, I want to be more constructive than just complaining about how our society is once again embracing ‘trickle-down’ ethics, and our remarkable ability to ignore the need in our communities even as so much wealth is accumulated within the top one percent of our populace,” Steves wrote.

Largest pay increase ever for NZ care workers

Video will play inPlay nowDon’t auto playNever auto playCare workers in women-dominated industries will get pay rises worth up to a $5000 a year after a historic settlement with the Government. In all, the package will cost more than $2 billion and could require a lift in ACC levies or higher fees for aged care residents. It will cover 55,000 care workers, mostly women, in the aged residential care, home support and disability service sectors. The settlement comes after a pay equity claim brought by E Tu (previously the Service and Food Workers Union) on behalf of care worker Kristine Bartlett against her employer TerraNova. It is the first legal settlement in New Zealand which recognises that some jobs pay less because they are done mainly by women. Announcing the deal today, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman described it as the largest pay increase in New Zealand’s history. It would benefit some of New Zealand’s lowest-paid workers, he said. The workforce was mostly female and part-time, with average wages of between $16 and $18 an hour. As a result of the agreement, carers who were on the minimum wage would receive a pay rise of between 15 and 49 per cent, depending on their qualifications. “For the 20,000 workers currently on the minimum wage of $15.75 per hour, it means on July 1 they will move to at least $19 per hour, a 21 per cent pay rise,” Coleman said. “For a full-time worker, this means they will be taking home around an extra $100 a week, which is over $5000 a year.” Continued below.Related ContentVideoWatch: PM on pay equity settlement John Drinnan: When does plain talk become hate speech? Watch NZH Local Focus: Whanganui flood predictions downgraded, but evacuations still possible All 55,000 workers in the affected sectors would see their wages increase to between $19 and $27 over five years. Video Asked whether the settlement meant care workers had been mistreated in the past, Prime Minister Bill English said: “It has been part of the way the health sector works. “You can make a number of arguments about how and why they’ve been paid … but what we’ve come to here is a fair settlement.” He added: “If we thought they were being paid fairly we wouldn’t have gone into the negotiation.” The settlement is expected to have wider ramifications, and English said he understood other sectors were considering pay equity claims. These would be dealt with by pay equity principles which are being developed alongside unions and businesses, rather than by direct negotiation. English warned that the carers’ case was “unique” and that the “hurdle would be pretty high” for any other groups making claims for equal pay. The $2 billion settlement over five years would be funded through increases in the Health and ACC budgets. That could mean an increase in ACC levies over the next decade, Coleman said. “However, that is not definite. There may also be an increase in costs for people in aged residential care facilities, whose assets keep them above the subsidy threshold.” Legislation would be introduced to Parliament soon to enact the changes. Bartlett, the rest home worker who won pay equity victory, in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell ‘A momentous occasion’ John Ryall of E Tu said it was a momentous occasion which would benefit 55,000 care and support workers. “It will transform their lives. This will make a huge difference. “It offers a clear pathway to better wages and better lives through a new system for training.” Speaking at a gathering across from Parliament attended by care workers including Kristine Bartlett, Ryall said her courage had led to the settlement. “This is your day. Your legacy will live on for a long time.” He said establishing the principle of pay equity had been important to the union. He said it was a human right and represented a massive step toward gender equality. “This is a good thing, not just for low-paid undervalued women, but for us all.” He also said he wanted to pay tribute to the Government for agreeing to negotiate “rather than waiting for years”. Health Minister Jonathan Coleman also went to the unions meeting and was greeted with applause. Bartlett said it was an amazing day and a “huge victory,” not just for her but for thousands of support workers. “And not just today – but for years to come. “What an exciting moment. I’m thrilled, This will be the biggest pay rise we will ever get.” She said she had worked alongside others who struggled to get by on the minimum-wage level pay caregivers had been on, including some who arrived at work without lunch because they could not afford it. “So this will be a life changer. It makes me so happy, And that’s why I took this case, so they could live in dignity. “We will now be able to enjoy work knowing we are getting the appropriate pay.” ‘It will encourage others’ Cee Payne of the NZ Nurses’ Organisation said New Zealand’s history included being the first country to give women the right to vote. “And now a history that will include the achievement of the largest equal pay for women settlement since the Equal Pay Act in 1972.” She said the settlement firmly entrenched the principle of equal pay for women. She said the struggle for equal pay in the sector had resonated with people who believed it was right and long overdue. She said as well as justice for the caregivers it was justice for the elderly clients. “Giving great care requires experienced staff and enough staff on duty. “This equal pay settlement will encourage others to take up work and stay in work.” It would also give more opportunities for training and the right to get qualifications that would be recognised in pay. She ended with “just one word” to Coleman. “Thank you.” “The outcome will contribute to better lives for those requiring care and support in Aotearoa. ‘You should be proud today’ Caregiver Dilani Perera said she loved her job, but often had to work long hours to make ends meet. “What we do is important for society, but we also need time to spend with out families. This is why we have never given up on equal pay.” She said it would also benefit those the caregivers looked after, and help stop the high turnover of staff in the sector. “We need to be valued in our work so we can be emotionally strong. My message to all the caregivers is that you should be proud today.” She said it could not have been done without the strong backing from the unions and urged others to attend the meetings to consider the settlement and vote. Helen Amey, an in-home support worker and PSA delegate, said she was thrilled. She said the clients were some of the most vulnerable people in the country and the support workers helped them continue to live independently. “This is a victory for all working women. It shows what we can do when we stand together for a better working life.” She said it also showed what could happen when the union worked with the Government and the sector. Emily Sheffield, a support worker in the disability sector, said she was on $17 an hour. “I’ve always felt the work we do is not valued.” She said many workers did their jobs because they loved it despite the low pay. Former Equal Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor once described aged care as a form of “modern slavery”. Photo / Natalie Slade Historic deal A historic pay equity agreement announced today can partly be traced to a damning inquiry five years ago which involved a senior public servant going undercover in a rest home. The author of that report, former Equal Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor, said today she was celebrating a Government deal which would see up to 55,000 low-paid workers get large pay increases in the next five years. McGregor famously posed as a care worker in a retirement home for a week in January 2012 as part of her year-long Caring Counts inquiry. Her report concluded that aged care was a form of “modern-day slavery”. It also generated momentum for a legal challenge against the Government, which effectively sets the pay rates through its subsidies to aged care providers. Speaking to the Herald today, McGregor was reluctant to take any credit for the settlement, which will cost the Government up to $500 million a year. “I am proud to have been part of the catalyst, but I think the equal pay movement has been around for a long time,” she said. McGregor, now the head of public policy at AUT, said going undercover helped to get public attention for workers who had until then been invisible. She said the settlement would send a strong message to the public that their work was hugely valuable. “One of things that was quite remarkable when we did our human rights report was the degree to which the public felt embarrassed that carers looking after their elderly were paid so little for the job they knew they couldn’t do. “When I worked in the sector, I was physically unable to lift people and hoist them and toilet them. This will now show the public that the job has value.” She said the legal challenge taken by the Service and Food Workers Union on behalf of Kristine Bartlett was not without a touch of serendipity. The union’s leaders had been discussing the Caring Counts report when Bartlett popped into their office to use the photocopier. “The union’s lawyer was in [former national secretary] John Ryall’s office and said we can’t ignore the inquiry. “And as I understand it, Kristine Bartlett just happened to be in the office and they said to her ‘Would you be on for it?’ “Without the litigation I don’t think there would have been enough pressure on Government and employers to come to the party.” Opposition parties have criticised the National-led Government for resisting change and fighting Bartlett all the way to the Supreme Court. But McGregor gave some credit to the Government, saying it had now settled on two of the major recommendations in her report; pay equity for carers and compensation for carers’ travel between clients. “I think it is fantastic news that women have finally got equal pay, or at least something towards equal pay,” she said. “Whether I agree that that’s the true value of an hour of caring work is another matter.” The settlement would have broader ramifications, McGregor said, because low-paid women would be emboldened to demand better wages. “The private sector will need to acknowledge that if they’re not paying equally, then they’re going to have a problem. “Because I think that women are now alert to the issue and they’re more likely to ask.” – additional reporting Claire Trevett – NZ Herald

Los Angeles man turns portable toilets into homes for homeless

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles man says he’s found a solution to the city’s housing crisis in the most unlikeliest of places.

T.K. Devine wants to help solve L.A.’s homeless problem with portable toilets.

“Folks who are living it rough and living on the streets and are trying to make a better life for themselves, they need consistency,” Devine told CBS Los Angeles. “They need a good night’s rest.”

The 35-year-old founder of Porta-Home is converting portable toilets into portable homes out of a downtown Los Angeles warehouse, including one built for himself.

It’s a large unit, originally built for those with disabilities, and the toilet is removed. The bed folds up and turns the room into a kitchen, along with a mini-fridge under the bed.

“I can fit a 6-foot-1 frame — with my shoes off, like my mama taught me — comfortably on the bed, and yeah, it’s as big as a twin bed,” he says.

When you have to use the bathroom, just walk around back to the attached shower unit. The recycled water irrigates a top-level garden near solar panels that power the home. The system rests on a trailer that can be parked on any residential property, and the only hookup needed is a water hose.

Having intentionally lived out of his truck and former office space, Devine has proved his devotion to the alternative housing and micro-housing movement. He’s hoping these Porta-Homes can offer an affordable solution.

“I think we can do this for under [$20,000]” per unit, he said.

Once Devine finishes his current home, he’s planning on loading it onto a trailer for a yearlong tour of Los Angeles, parking it at different residential properties.

While he lives inside the trailer, he’ll be documenting the experience online at his website. Devine says he hopes to raise the funds through donations and then donate the homes to homeless charities.

Domestic abuse survivor marries EMT who helped save her life

Melissa Dohme is now married to her own Prince Charming, a fairy tale ending to a five-year long journey.

Media reports say that Dohme tied the knot with Cameron Hill in a March 4 ceremony at the Lange Farm in Dade City, Fla.

In 2012, a vicious attack left Dohme lying in the road outside her home, covered in blood. She had been attacked, beaten, and stabbed 32 times by an ex-boyfriend.

When Hill saw Dohme off in a helicopter bound for a trauma center, he knew that this wouldn’t be the last time he’d see her.

Dohme told her story to “48 Hours” in “One Last Hug.”

“I had this crazy little feeling in my head that I would see Melissa again,” Hill told “48 Hours.”

After spending three weeks in the hospital, she later graduated from St. Petersburg College-Clearwater, and now works as an advocate at Hands Across the Bay, helping victims of domestic violence.

Months after the attack, Hill and Dohme met again at a speech she gave and soon began dating.

In 2015, Dohme was asked to toss the ceremonial first pitch at a Tampa Bay Rays game. When the first responder brought the ball to Dohme, it had “Will you marry me?” written on it.

She, of course, said yes.

“It just probably was the best moment of my whole life, the happiest moment of my whole life,” she told “48 Hours.”

Bristish Cosmologist Stephen Hawking will travel to space on board Richard Branson’s ship: ‘I thought no one would take me’, the cosmologist and physicist said

This image of an area on the surface of Mars, approximately 1.5 by 3 kilometers in size, shows frosted gullies on a south-facing slope within a crater. The image was taken by Nasa’s HiRISE camera, which is mounted on its Mars Reconaissance Orbiter

The Orion capsule jetted off into space before heading back a few hours later — having proved that it can be used, one day, to carry humans to Mars

The Soyuz TMA-15M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, carrying three new astronauts to the International Space Station. It also took caviar, ready for the satellite’s inhabitants to celebrate the holidays

Although Mimas and Pandora, shown here, both orbit Saturn, they are very different moons. Pandora, “small” by moon standards (50 miles or 81 kilometers across) is elongated and irregular in shape. Mimas (246 miles or 396 kilometers across), a “medium-sized” moon, formed into a sphere due to self-gravity imposed by its higher mass

An image of the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy seen in infrared light by the Herschel Space Observatory. Regions of space such as this are where new stars are born from a mixture of elements and cosmic dust

The Space Shuttle Challenger launches from Florida at dawn. On this mission, Kathryn Sullivan became the first U.S. woman to perform a spacewalk and Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space. The crew of seven was the largest to fly on a spacecraft at that time, and STS-41G was the first flight to include two female astronauts

A Fresh Perspective on an Extraordinary Cluster of Galaxies Galaxy clusters are often described by superlatives. After all, they are huge conglomerations of galaxies, hot gas, and dark matter and represent the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity

The arrangement of the spiral arms in the galaxy Messier 63, seen here in an image from the Nasa Hubble Space Telescope, recall the pattern at the center of a sunflower

The HiRISE camera aboard Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter acquired this closeup image of a “fresh” (on a geological scale, though quite old on a human scale) impact crater in the Sirenum Fossae region of Mars. This impact crater appears relatively recent as it has a sharp rim and well-preserved ejecta

This photograph of the Florida Straits and Grand Bahama Bank was taken during the Gemini IV mission during orbit no. 19 in 1965. The Gemini IV crew conducted scientific experiments, including photography of Earth’s weather and terrain, for the remainder of their four-day mission following Ed White’s historic spacewalk on June 3

For 50 years, NASA has been “suiting up” for spacewalking. In this 1984 photograph of the first untethered spacewalk, NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless is in the midst of the first “field” tryout of a nitrogen-propelled backpack device called the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU)

A sokol suit helmet can be seen against the window of the Soyuz TMA-11M capsule shortly after the spacecraft landed with Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan