It was an adjustment for Robert Smith to give up more than half his living space and many of his possessions, but after almost four months of living in a “micro suite,” he’s used to it.
“I’m really happy with it,” he said.
Smith is one of the residents of the new seniors’ housing development on Braun Avenue in Abbotsford that is owned and managed by Lynnhaven Society.
The development, located at 33585 and 33580 Braun Ave., celebrated its official opening on Friday morning.
The project consists of two four-storey wood-frame buildings – called McCargar and McMath – with 32 studio units each.
Each suite is about 280 square feet and comes furnished.
The project replaces a former development on Lynn Avenue which was built in the 1950s to supply housing for veterans. As the years passed, other seniors were welcomed into the homes.
However, the aging buildings required significant repairs, and Lynnhaven announced plans in 2011 for the new development, trading ownership of the Lynn Avenue property for the site of the new buildings.
Residents of the older buildings had the option to move into the new micro suites or seek other options.
Smith was among the former tenants who made the decision to move into one of the new affordable rental units. His rent is $650, which is subsidized by $170 each month through the B.C. government’s Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters program.
“I thought (the new development) was just so totally ideal, especially when you’re on a limited income as a pensioner,” he said.
Some initial concerns from opponents to the project included its location off McCallum Road in the old downtown area, which is known for criminal activity.
Smith said he has not noticed any such activity since moving to the neighbourhood, and said he would recommend the housing option to others “without even blinking.”
Among dignitaries attending Friday’s opening was Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas.
“Seniors from Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley will benefit greatly from the increase in affordable-housing options provided by the new addition of the Lynnhaven buildings,” he said.
Funding for the project consists of a $20,000 seed funding grant and proposal development funding of $50,000 from the federal government; $47,000 from the B.C. government, which also arranged approximately $4 million in long-term financing; $320,000 in equity from the City of Abbotsford; and land valued at more than $2.7 million from the Lynnhaven Society, as well as $5,000 in equity.
The Lynnhaven Society was formed in 1957 to provide affordable rental housing to seniors in Abbotsford.