Everyone knows that young adults (those under 30) are often unable to afford the price, or the rent, for reasonable housing. There is, however, a local Abbotsford effort that seems to have proven that young people can live responsibly together in community and, in the process, have affordable housing.
A few days ago, I received an invitation to get together for coffee. It was from a young man I had never met (let’s call him David), age 26. We enjoyed a cup of coffee at Formaggio’s (a great local spot) and had what I thought was a very enlightening discussion on a number of topics. However, our primary focus was the Atangard Community Project and the 27 young people who make this their home. I had heard about the Atangard Community Project a number of years ago, but never actually met anyone associated with that community. “The Project”, as it is called, is a simple idea: a group of young people who are seeking to live together in an affordable community. It is located in what once was the old Atangard Hotel in historic downtown Abbotsford.
Although “The Project” dates back 4 or 5 years, since 2009 the Atangard has provided affordable housing in a community setting for university students and working people between the ages of 19 and early 30s. Each apartment in the Atangard is 150 – 300 sq. ft., not including individual bathrooms. “The Project” is fully occupied with a waiting list, which indicates that there is a need that is being met. The residents have developed a system where they take turns preparing dinner once or twice per month. When asked, David (not his real name) said he hoped that this demographic in our community could more readily access Council members, and to find a venue in which to dialogue on important local matters. The goal would be to come together and explore solutions to some of the needs encountered by young adults of our community. David had taken the initiative. I received an open invitation to join this community for dinner, which I will do sometime during the next week or two.
Afterwards, I did some of my own research and discovered that Sophia Suderman is one of the directors that spearheaded this initiative in response to what she saw as a great need for reasonably priced, community-based living for this often overlooked demographic. Sophie is quoted as saying, “Our society is so driven to achieve, and relationships fall to the side… A situation like this meets both the relational needs as well as the need for affordability.”
Abbotsford has a rich heritage of meeting local needs, as well as those in different locations around the world. Our local community has often been a model for innovative solutions, such as “The Project”. By taking the initiative, listening to each other and working hard together, even seemingly insurmountable difficulties can be addressed.