When Shannel was looking for an apartment for her and her daughter, it was hard to find an affordable home that met their needs. “I [often] had issues with maintenance and pest control.” After walking into The Springs, an APAH property, she knew things would be different. The employees in the leasing office told her about the upcoming Columbia Hills property and encouraged her to apply. “I put in my application the first day.”
Born in Arlington but raised in Maryland, Shannel was drawn back to the area when it was time for her daughter to start school. “I wanted to make sure she went to [Arlington] schools because they are such good schools.” She found a job as an Administrative Assistant in Alexandria and enrolled her now-7-year-old in an immersion school. “I like that she learns another language while learning core subjects.”
For those like Shannel who don’t drive, Columbia Hills’ location offers convenience. She appreciates the on-site delivery from the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the events that APAH’s resident services program offers within her building. “I try to engage myself in most of the things they offer because it is so close,” and it provides opportunities to feel like part of the community.
So far, Shannel has participated in yoga, cooking, and financial classes. She laughs, recalling the times she attended yoga with her daughter. Mimicking her daughter’s voice, she says, “Am I doing it right? Can you fix my legs?” As much as she enjoys spending time with her daughter, she appreciates that APAH provides childcare during these classes. “When they have their separate room it’s great.” So when Shannel is bonding with other women and adults, her daughter gets to make friends with other kids. And this year, when APAH started offering Amazon’s Coding with Kids curriculum at Columbia Hills, she signed her daughter up for classes to gain new skills and make new friends.
Living at Columbia Hills has made all the difference for her family. Her experience has given her a perspective on affordable housing that she wants to share with others.“It’s affordable, but you still get the same quality everyone gets versus having to settle or end up in a place that is not appealing.”