Vision House was founded by John and Susan Camerer of Renton, Washington in 1990. They saw the movie God Bless the Child about a single mother who, through a series of events that were no fault of her own, became homeless. The heartbreaking conclusion was when the mother reluctantly placed her young daughter in the care of the state because she couldn’t care for her while living on the streets. After the movie, the Camerers felt a strong calling to meet the needs of the homeless. John and Susan believe that by meeting the physical needs of the homeless, we have the opportunity to show them God’s love and make an everlasting difference in their lives.
1990 Vision House Founded
In response to the increasing plight of the homeless, and due to their enduring religious convictions, John and Susan Camerer launch the agency after viewing the movie God Bless the Child about a single mother who became homeless and ended up losing custody of her daughter. The couple writes a personal check for $800 and establishes “Vision Special Needs Housing.” Because of John’s experience working with men in the prison system, they first establish a transitional home for single men recovering from substance abuse. This facility opens November 2, 1990, in Everett, Washington.
1991 Second Home Opens
A second home for homeless single men in recovery from substance abuse opens in Maple Valley, Washington.
1992 Single Women’s Home Opens
A third home opens in Seattle, Washington. This facility is for homeless single women.
1993 Seattle Single Women’s Home Converted to Men’s Home
The founders decide to convert the Seattle single women’s home into a home for men in recovery.
1994 Single Mothers’ and Children’s Home Opens
The couple’s initial vision comes to life when the agency identifies the leadership needed to start a program
for homeless mothers and their children in Renton, Washington. Desiring to meet a significant need in the community, local churches rally behind the agency with volunteer and financial support.
1995 Agency Passes Significant Audits
With flying colors, the agency passes a United Way program audit sponsored by the Boeing Company and a financial audit.
1996 Vision for Larger Facility Launches
In March, the vision for a new, larger facility for homeless mothers and their children is born. On September 8, the agency board votes unanimously to construct the facility and to build the project only with funds that will not restrict the agency in operating consistent with its mission.
1997 Property Purchased for New Family Complex
With funding from the Medina Foundation, the Boeing Employee Community Fund and a private donor, property is purchased in Renton to build a complex that will provide housing and services for 12 homeless single mothers and their children.
1998 Name Changes to Vision House
Vision Special Needs Housing changes its name to Vision House. The board of directors vote to change the agency from a charitable organization to a 501 (c) 3 religious organization and develop a statement of faith to insure that the agency stays true to its founding mission.
1999 New Home for Single Mothers
Vision House successfully completes Phase I of its complex for homeless mothers and their children in Renton. The first family moves in on December 23, 1999. The phase I complex has capacity to house four homeless families.
In January, the Vision House board votes to begin raising the support to build the second phase of the single mother’s complex in Renton. The agency opens another home for homeless men recovering from substance abuse in Burien, WA. The home is donated by the Port of Seattle with the provision that Vision House move the home to a new location. The home is moved and renovated thanks to community donations and volunteer labor.
2001 Complex for Homeless Single Mothers and Children Expands
In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, Vision House finishes construction of Phase II for homeless mothers and their children. This expansion triples capacity to 12 families.
2003 Campaign Launches for Children’s Village
Vision House launches a $6.6 million dollar expansion called Children’s Village. This expansion will add 11 transitional housing units for homeless mothers and children, a child care center, counseling offices and administrative space within walking distance of its original single mother’s complex in Renton.
2004 Fundraising and Design Begins for Children’s Village
Vision House begins design on Children’s Village. A campaign cabinet, led by City of Renton Mayor Kathy Keolker, is assembled. The Children’s Village complex will consist of three buildings with offices and the child care center on the first floors, and housing units on the second floors.
2005 Children’s Village Phase I Opens
With the support of Conner Homes, Sajasa Construction and HomeAid Master Builders Care, Vision House opens the first of the three Children’s Village buildings. This building consists of four housing units and a child care center for 100 children. The child care center is a major accomplishment, helping resident families overcome the obstacle of quality child care in reaching their goal of self-sufficiency.
2006 Schneider Family Playroom Opens
With the support of Schneider Family Homes, Vision House completes a resident community center. This two-story complex includes teen hangout space complete with a computer center, a child advocate office, counseling offices, and age-appropriate activity space for younger children.
2007 Children’s Village Phase II
In the spring, with the support of CamWest Development, Vision House begins construction on the HEDCO Building which will provide housing for an additional four families (Children’s Village Phase II). In the fall, with the support of Centex Homes, Vision House begins construction on the agency offices, program space and three additional housing units for families. Plans are also in design stage for Vision House Jacob’s Well in Shoreline. Since Vision House began in 1990, over 500 homeless men, women and children have benefited from Vision House services.
2008 Children’s Village Phase II – CamWest Opens HEDCO House
In partnership with the Master Builders Care Foundation, CamWest Development completes construction on the Vision House HEDCO building. Four new families move in, bringing to 20 the number of apartment units Vision House operates for homeless families. Eight storage garages are also part of the HEDCO building. Vision House continues operating a separate program serving nine men in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
2009 Children’s Village Phase II – Centex Building Opens
Centex Homes completes the third building in the Children’s Village complex, which includes 3 more housing units for homeless families, an after school program, counseling and administrative offices. Vision House can now serve up to 85 homeless individuals in 23 apartments for homeless families, and in the men’s recovery program serving 9 men. A capital campaign continues in order to raise support to build Vision House Jacob’s Well in Shoreline.
2010 Vision House 20th Anniversary and Vision House Shoreline (Jacob’s Well) Complex Breaks Ground
Vision House celebrates 20 years helping the homeless transform their lives. Since its launch in 1990, nearly 700 homeless men, women and children have received housing and support services to assist them in achieving self sufficiency. Founders John and Susan Camerer continue to lead the organization. Susan is Executive Director and John is Director of Operations. The Vision House Shoreline (Jacob’s Well) housing complex breaks ground. This community-led project will include two buildings with a total of 20 apartments for homeless mothers and children, a family support center, counseling offices and a licensed after school program.
More than 600 volunteers working on the Jacob’s Well construction project, help frame and roof the first of the two Vision House Shoreline buildings for homeless mothers and children. Vision House also acquires a Thrift Store in Bothell from Bellevue Christian School to provide quality, low-cost merchandise to the community as well as to produce revenue for Vision House programs.
Being built debt-free, hundreds of volunteers alongside professionals install the siding, insulation and drywall, paint the exterior and the interior and lay flooring at the Shoreline (Jacob’s Well) complex. The Vision House Thrift Store and our resale operations are enhanced and expanded – a partnership with Savers, Inc. is established whereby Vision House sells excess donated clothing to Savers, helping to further diversify our funding base to assist homeless men, women and children in rebuilding their lives.
The first of the two Vision House buildings in Shoreline is completed and a ribbon cutting celebration is held with more than 300 people. The three-story facility has 12 apartments, counseling and administrative offices, a community center and a small child care center for before-and-after school care. Thanks to 3,000 individuals, 200 businesses, 70 churches, 30 community groups and 20 foundations, the facility is built debt-free. The first family, a homeless mother and her twin toddlers, moves into their apartment in December – just in time for Christmas!
Vision House obtains full occupancy permits for the Shoreline complex as well as licensing for the before-and-after school child care center. Homeless families move in, staff are hired, support services and counseling programs begin. The total number of facilities Vision House owns and operates includes: 35 apartments for homeless families (23 in Renton and 12 in Shoreline), two child care centers at each complex (Renton and Shoreline), and two houses in Renton and Burien for nine men recovering from substance abuse. This year Vision House also opens a donation center in Renton where in-kind donations are received to support Vision House families and programs.
Vision House Thrift Store in Bothell moves to donation center warehouse in Renton. Single men’s home converted to shared housing for single mothers with children. Planning begins to construct Building B at Vision House in Shoreline, which will add 10 apartments for homeless families, a youth and family multi-purpose center, and an expanded child care center for children ages birth to 5 years old. Vision House Family Services Program begins expanding services – in addition to our traditional transitional housing program, Vision House will provide homelessness prevention and fast track housing, as well as intensive support services.