Viktor Vasyliev, 74, with his arms outstretched and smiling broadly, greeted Raul Villagra and his wife Cristina Araya with a warm embrace.
Standing nearby, his daughter Alina Vasiliev shook her head and laughed. “My dad had never kissed anyone ‘hello’ before he met Raul and Cristina,” she says. “It’s like this at our house every weekend. My parents speak Russian. my in-laws speak spanish But somehow they communicate.”
The family is lingering inside an augmented housing unit, or ADU, behind Alina and Daniel Villagra’s newly built home in the Los Angeles area.
ADU has become a way for couples to help others. Not only their parents. One day, the hope is that the two groups-in-laws will share an ADU so that the four can be closer to their children and grandchildren.
“I want my children to “My friends were in touch with their grandparents — one from Chile, others from Ukraine,” says Alina, 41. “They can learn a lot from them. in both Spanish and Russian while having the privilege of having grandparents close together.”
For now, only Viktor and his wife Olha (pronounced Olga) Vasylyeva, 73, live in the 1,100-square-foot ADU shortly after they moved in last March. before the big house was completed The family opened their doors to a friend fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“We took seven people from Ukraine to the Tijuana border for humanitarian work,” said Alina, who was born in Russia and raised in Ukraine. “My friend and her husband, her parents, her brother and her two children. I put three people in our house nearby and four in ADU with my parents.” They lived together for six months until all jobs and housing were available.
As family defines what it means to be together for generations in terms of friends and family, ADU becomes more than a home. It became a holy place.
Ihor (pronounced Igor) is still deeply moved by the war. who requested that his surname not be used out of concern for the safety of his family in Ukraine. Recounts his surreal experience of moving to Los Angeles: “One person lives in a kitchen, three people sleep in a bedroom.” Los Angeles “It felt like I was in heaven, I would take Bruno (the family dog) for a walk and take pictures of everything, the trees, the mountains, even the post office. Everything is so beautiful here in Los Angeles.”
Alina, like Villagra, emphasizes the importance of helping refugees. It’s hard to get people to understand that refugees are just like us, she said. A good person who needs encouragement to get started. People are afraid to rent them. when they arrive They don’t have credit scores or references to find a job or an apartment. Everything is a challenge for them. People should not be afraid to help them.”
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when the refugees arrive big house construction The landscaping and fences were stopped. In February, Alina and Villagra and their two children moved into the newly built 3,200 square foot home front. which currently serves as the embodiment of their large family The couple aims to add a swimming pool and landscaping the garden in time. But the project is now on hold until savings can be made.
In 2018, the couple paid $840,000 for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom Spanish-style home and completed the ADU addition, which cost approximately $160,000. Get a home loan to replace your home in Spain with a new home.
You might think three generations of living together with a refugee family would be stressful, but ADU brings families closer together.
“I love being with them,” says 12-year-old David Villagra of living next to his grandparents. “I miss them when we’re apart.”
His 2-year-old sister, Bianka, echoed his sentiments as she smiled gleefully as she passed from one lovely grandparent to the next. “Que linda,” Raoul muttered as the minister. 75-year-old hugging her
Eventually, Alina and Daniel hope state laws will change. so that they can legally share existing ADUs And their parents can live as neighbors. Architect Sevak Karabachian, who designed the modern residence, said more relaxed state regulations for building ADUs might make it possible. “Sooner or later”
“While more than one ADU unit per lot is currently permitted for existing residential lots only, which this project is not but a detached house We wanted to come up with a plan that could be easily adapted if the law was more lenient and allowed more than one ADU in a large lot,” Karabachian said. Looks like we’re almost there. As building codes are becoming more friendly with ADUs.”
When that day arrived, he said, dividing the existing ADU into two separate units would be possible by adding a 2-by-4 two-stud wall, with gaps between the two units and sufficient sound insulation to keep the ADU’s sound in place. absorb sound and provide privacy
To that end, Karabachian designed each aspect of the ADU to mirror the other: two front doors, living room, laundry room, bathroom, skylight and bedroom. But still have room to add more if needed.
Alina wants this housing arrangement to benefit her children. how much of her She also wanted to provide affordable accommodation for her parents. “They’re retired and don’t have any savings,” she says. “Now they’re much less stressed. Because they don’t have to pay for accommodation.”
Daniel, 43, an insurance agent working with Medicare registrants feel the same way about his parents “Friends tell us we’re crazy for wanting our parents to stay with us,” he says, “but my parents are … living in a two-story townhouse in West Covina. my father fell down the stairs He had to live in a one-story house.”
The couple did not grow up close to their grandparents. when she lived in Ukraine Alina remembers She traveled by train to Russia for a day to visit her grandmother. Daniel sees his grandparents once a year during the summer in Chile.
Having parents in the backyard is “A dream come true,” Alina said, “not just for me. but for my child.”
When asked if she would adopt more refugees Alina did not hesitate.
“More and more people are texting me from Ukraine. and told me they wanted to come with me,” she said, adding that she had founded a non-profit organization called Friends of Ukraine Foundation, which provides assistance to Ukrainian refugees in the United States.
meanwhile The couple are in the process of granting permission for another ADU on the street they used to live in hopes of providing more housing for their friend in Ukraine.
“I really don’t have room right now,” Alina said, “but I can’t say no.”