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Hero Provides Shelter For Homeless

A Seattle-area realtor is interested in much more than selling houses.

He's a Vietnamese refugee who is giving back to the country that took him in. The Early Show National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman gives the details on Thursday's American Hero.

Five-year-old Morgan and her sisters have a roof over their heads, thanks to Thach Nguyen, a landlord willing to rent to the formerly homeless, even though they can't quite make the monthly rental payments.

"I'll take $300 or $400 loss every month," says Nguyen. "I just know the universe and God will give me massive financial abundance that I don't have to worry about little stuff like that."

Nguyen has reason to feel the universe is taking care of him.

Nguyen was born in Vietnam on May 18, 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War. His dad worked for the American military. When Saigon fell, Nguyen was four years old.

"We just got the notice that the communists are coming in within three, four days," recalls Nguyen. "A Vietnamese person working for the U.S. are either going to put you in prison for life, hang you or kill you … I wouldn't even be here today if we hadn't left."

In the chaos, Nguyen's family was sent to the Saigon airport.

"When we got on the airplane, my dad didn't even know where we were going to go," he says. "My dad had a hundred bucks, and all we had was one suitcase for the whole family. We didn't know where we were going to stay, where we were going to live."

That question of "where to live" would shape his life.

Today, Nguyen is one of the top realtors in his community -- with more than a hundred sales in the last year. He is a self-made millionaire.

"l now look back and I think everyone has a purpose in life," says Nguyen. "My purpose in life is to help less fortunate people."

And, he helps those less fortunate people into a house.

Nguyen teamed up with "First Place," a non-profit organization that helps families coming out of homeless shelters.

"I think he is a hero in the way he believes in helping people that are at the bottom," says Gene Harris, director of First Place.

Most who were recently homeless don't have the money for damage deposits, or to pay first and last months rent.

"No landlord will rent to people like this," explains Nguyen. "They want first and last [rent], they want good credit. These people ain't got no credit. So I said to First Place, 'You know what? I will step up. I will be the landlord that will rent to these people.'"

The 33-year-old is not only willing to give them a home, but he gives them a chance. Nguyen buys houses that he rents for less than market value.

"He's helped me and my family," says Ritche Coleman. "He gave me something else no else had really offered. And, that's hope."

Meditating each morning, Nguyen feels he's being guided. And he's come to believe renting to the homeless is not enough. He wants them to become homeowners.

Nguyen says, "We get them into a house first, then we educate them how to own a house. Every month I do classes at First Place for the families in my rental house, so they could learn how to buy their own house."

"Last December I went back to Vietnam for the first time in 29 years," he told a class of his own story.

Nguyen took his parents with him to visit Vietnam.

"I see where I used to live and where I live today and what I have today," says Nguyen. "It's like, my god, I have to pinch my own self to see if it's really true or not."

He knows America gave his family a place to live. That is the gift he wants to pass on.

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