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‘Happy to be here’: Vancouver apartment brings opportunity for people living with autism

Click to play video: 'Vancouver apartment complex offers housing for adults with autism'
Vancouver apartment complex offers housing for adults with autism
A Vancouver apartment complex is proving to be more than just a home to some residents who've moved in. The building houses more than a dozen suites for people living with autism and other developmental disabilities, allowing them to live independently. And as Aaron McArthur reports, it's having a positive impact on the tenants and their families – Nov 8, 2021

It’s only been a week, but Taryn Batchelor says her new apartment already feels like home.

The 29-year-old Vancouver resident lives with autism, and is one of 16 people with developmental disabilities in a new nine-storey apartment building on Main Street and East 6th Avenue.

“It’s good, I’m happy to be here,” she told Global News, after making herself a cup of tea.

“It’s a lot closer and easier to take the bus, versus taking the bus in Surrey would be too far.”

Read more: Planned changes to B.C. autism funding met with growing backlash

Catalyst Community Developments agreed to set aside 16 suites in its new complex, offering tenants with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live independently.

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Batchelor’s parents, who always hoped she would have a place to call her own, said they’re thrilled.

“The pride — she was just so ready and happy to be out on her own — that was just overwhelming,” said Taryn’s mother, Berni Batchelor.

Click to play video: 'B.C. government releases new support model for neurodiverse children'
B.C. government releases new support model for neurodiverse children

The development, which includes an attached health clinic and a community connector to help integrate its residents, is being hailed as the first of its kind in Metro Vancouver.

The Morris and Helen Belkin Foundation funded the support services, the City of Vancouver provided the land, and the federal government offered a low-cost loan.

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It’s a model that could help thousands of young adults who are aging out of the school system, according to the PALS Adult Services Society (PASS).

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“What’s special about this program is that we’re not just providing housing for them, we’re providing a community within a community,” explained Lauren Crumb of PASS.

Batchelor said she’s happy about that part, too — her childhood friend Casey lives a few floors above her. Her new roommate, a UBC student, is also helping her learn how to cook.

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