Albana has lived at Andrew's Heights her whole life, and is giving back to the Imagine Housing community

Albana's Stable Childhood and Promising Future

Albana’s parents moved into their Imagine Housing apartment in 2000 years ago, refugees from the Yugoslavian conflict. They have raised 4 children in their home and Albana says they have become a “cornerstone” of the Andrew’s Heights community.

Albana loved growing up at Andrew’s Heights. There were lots of other kids her age, from all different cultures, backgrounds, and religions, who became her best friends. This shaped Albana’s values and understanding of what it means to be a community. While there are fewer kids now than there used to be, she says that the community is still strong and neighbors help each other out. She say, “My friends at school don’t know their neighbors, they don’t even know their names. My neighbors talk to me and my family, even though [my parents] have limited English, and I really value that.”

Now, Albana rides her longboard to her high school just down the road, and is thankful for the excellent education she’s been able to access in the Bellevue School District. “Andrew’s Heights allows us to not only have affordable housing, but be in a school district that offers so much for students. I go to a really great school, and so did all of my siblings.”

She’ll be graduating in June 2018 and plans to go to Bellevue College and then transfer to a 4-year university, where she’d like to study law and English. Albana is not only a resident, but a stellar volunteer as well. She offers about 40 hours of her time each month to give back to her community, and supports her neighbors at Andrew’s Heights and Andrew’s Glen.

Volunteering and community service enriches your general experience in life and you get to make a difference… It makes me feel like I’m actually doing something that helps people. When people are living in affordable housing, I don’t want them to worry about anything other than spending time with their families and building relationships with other residents.

What I’ve seen for my family and in my community is that affordable housing takes people out of toxic environments; it allows them to focus on feeding their families, and on their emotional health, which is super important; it can take people out of dangerous situations; and it offers a chance. When somebody feels like they don’t even have an opportunity to expand their family or chase after the job they want because they don’t have housing, that breaks my heart. And the more of it that exists, the better everyone will be.

When you take away the worry that is attached to trying to afford a home, then people can actually start living their lives.