Seventy-four-year-old Viktor Vasyliev — arms outstretched and smiling broadly — greeted Raul Villagra and his spouse, Cristina Araya, with a heat embrace.
Standing close by, his daughter Alina Vasyliev shook her head and laughed. “My father would have by no means kissed anybody ‘hey’ earlier than he met Raul and Cristina,” she mentioned. “It’s like this each weekend at our home: My dad and mom communicate Russian. My in-laws communicate Spanish. However in some way they convey.”
The three households have been lingering contained in the accent dwelling unit, or ADU, positioned behind Alina and Daniel Villagra’s newly constructed dwelling within the Los Angeles space.
The ADU has develop into a manner for the couple to assist others — not solely their dad and mom but in addition, for a time period, Ukrainian refugees. Sooner or later, the hope is that the 2 units of in-laws will share the ADU so all 4 will be near their kids and grandchildren.
“I wished my youngsters to have the ability to expertise their grandparents — one set from Chile, the others from Ukraine,” mentioned Alina, who’s 41. “They’ll be taught a lot from them — Spanish and Russian — whereas experiencing the privilege of getting their grandparents shut.”
For now, solely Viktor and his spouse, Olha (pronounced Olga) Vasylyeva, 73, reside within the 1,100-square-foot ADU. Shortly after they moved in final March — earlier than the primary home was completed — the household opened their doorways to associates escaping the conflict in Ukraine.
“We flew seven individuals from Ukraine to the humanitarian border in Tijuana,” mentioned Alina, who was born in Russia and grew up in Ukraine. “My buddy and her husband, her dad and mom, her brother and her two youngsters. I put three individuals in our home close by and 4 within the ADU with my dad and mom.” They stayed for six months till all of them discovered jobs and housing.
Because the household redefined what multigenerational residing means by way of family and friends, the ADU turned greater than a house. It turned a sanctuary.
Nonetheless reeling from the trauma of conflict, Ihor (pronounced Igor), who requested that his final title not be used out of concern for his household’s security in Ukraine, described the surreal expertise of relocating to Los Angeles: “One particular person was residing within the kitchen, three slept in a single bed room.” Nonetheless, he mentioned, strolling the streets of Los Angeles “felt like paradise. I’d stroll Bruno [the family dog] and take footage of every little thing. Bushes, mountains, even the publish workplace. Every part is so lovely right here in Los Angeles.”
Alina confused, as did Daniel, the significance of supporting refugees. It’s onerous to get individuals to know that refugees are similar to us, she mentioned. “They’re hard-working, good individuals who simply want a lift to get began. Persons are scared to lease to them. Once they arrived, they didn’t have a credit score rating or references to discover a job or an residence. Every part is a problem for them. Individuals shouldn’t be afraid to assist them.”
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When the refugees arrived, building on the primary home, landscaping and fencing was stopped. In February, Alina and Daniel and their two kids moved into the newly constructed 3,200-square-foot home in entrance, which now serves as a hub for his or her prolonged household. The couple goals so as to add a pool and landscaping in time, however for now, the tasks are on maintain till they’ll save up the cash.
In 2018, the couple paid $840,000 for the two-bedroom, one-bathroom Spanish dwelling and proceeded so as to add the ADU, which price round $160,000. After the ADU was completed, the property was reassessed for $1.6 million, which helped them safe a house fairness mortgage to exchange the Spanish dwelling with the brand new foremost home.
You would possibly assume that three generations residing collectively, together with a refugee household, would show demanding. As an alternative, the ADU has introduced the households nearer collectively.
“I really like having the ability to hang around with them,” David Villagra, 12, mentioned of residing close to his grandparents. “I missed them after we lived aside.”
His 2-year-old sister, Bianka, echoed his sentiments, smiling with delight as she was handed from one adoring grandparent to a different. “Que linda,” murmured Raul, because the 75-year-old minister gave her a hug.
Ultimately, Alina and Daniel hope state legal guidelines change to allow them to legally divide the prevailing ADU and their dad and mom can reside as neighbors. Architect Sevak Karabachian, who designed the trendy dwelling, mentioned that more and more relaxed state rules for constructing an ADU could make it a chance “prior to later.”
“Whereas presently a couple of ADU per lot is simply allowed for current multidwelling heaps — which this challenge just isn’t, it’s single-family — we wished to make a plan that’s simply modifiable if and when the legal guidelines develop into extra lenient and permit a couple of ADU on giant heaps,” Karabachian mentioned. “From the seems to be of it, it appears we’re virtually there because the constructing codes have gotten extra pleasant in the direction of ADUs.”
When that day comes, he mentioned, dividing the prevailing ADU into two separate models could be achievable by merely including a double-stud 2-by-4 wall with an inch hole in between the 2 models in addition to ample acoustic insulation to soak up sound and provide privateness.
With that in thoughts, Karabachian designed either side of the ADU to reflect the opposite: two entrance doorways, residing rooms, laundry rooms, loos, skylights and bedrooms. For now, there is just one prefab kitchen, however there may be room so as to add one other one if vital.
As a lot as Alina wished this residing association to learn her kids, she additionally wished to supply reasonably priced housing for her dad and mom. “They’re retired and don’t actually have any financial savings,” she mentioned. “It’s a lot much less demanding for them now as a result of they don’t must pay for housing.”
Daniel, 43, who’s an insurance coverage agent who works with Medicare enrollees, feels equally about his dad and mom. “Our associates inform us we’re loopy to wish to have all of our dad and mom residing with us,” he mentioned. “However my dad and mom are … residing in a two-story townhouse in West Covina. My dad has fallen on the steps. He must reside in a one-story dwelling.”
The couple didn’t develop up close to their grandparents. When she lived in Ukraine, Alina recalled, she took daylong prepare journeys to Russia so as to go to her grandmother. Daniel noticed his grandparents annually throughout the summer time in Chile.
Having her dad and mom within the yard is a “dream come true,” Alina mentioned. “Not only for me however for my youngsters.”
Requested if she would sponsor extra refugees, Alina didn’t hesitate.
“Extra individuals have texted me from Ukraine and instructed me that they wish to come too,” she mentioned, including that she’s began a nonprofit referred to as Buddies of Ukraine Basis, which offers help to Ukrainian refugees who’re in america.
In the meantime, the couple is presently within the allowing course of for one more ADU down the road the place they used to reside within the hopes of offering extra housing for his or her associates in Ukraine.
“I don’t actually have house proper now,” Alina mentioned. “However I can’t say no.”