SEATTLE -- For the first time in a long time, five families are spending the night in their very own homes, not at a shelter. Their community is called Nhon's (pronounced Young's) Place, a row of spanking new townhomes in the Rainier Valley.
It came about because people believed. Doreen Cato, executive director of First Place School which serves homeless families, said Thach Nguyen and his wife Camie believed a collaboration could make permanent housing a reality.
"He believed the whole time that it could happen," said Cato giving Nguyen a hug. "And we just had to open our minds to see how it could come about."
During a ceremonial ribbon-cutting (a red ribbon for good luck), Nguyen looked like Santa in June, passing out house keys to beaming residents.
"It's a new beginning for us," said Rose Falanai. "It's just a blessing from God to move into what we can now call home." Her family had been living in a shelter since last fall. Some families had been homeless for much longer.
"Hope. I think all these families (now) have hope," said Gene Harris of Family Support Services. "They had given up but now they believe it could change their lives and it has."
The coalition that put the development together includes First Place School, Family Support Services, Thach Nguyen Realty, Cobalt Mortgage and Foundation Bank.
As the families began moving in beds and tables, Cato smiled. "I think the whole piece that I learned out of this is: follow your dream. Never give it up, never give it up."