BCN Housing Center - The CoHousing Concept affordable.html

BCN Housing Center

Boulder Community Network | Housing Center
Last Modified On: Tuesday, March 05, 1996 - 13:39:36

The CoHousing Concept

Over the past 40 years, dramatic demographic and economic changes have taken place in our society, leaving a mismatch between today's households and the forms of available housing. Traditional housing styles no longer address the needs of a growing number of people. Single parents, the elderly and singles living alone face a child care crisis, social isolation, and a chronic time crunch, in part because they are living in housing which no longer fits their lifestyle.

At the same time, an increasingly mobile population has distanced many Americans from their extended families which have traditionally provided social and economic support. Most of us are feeling the effects of these trends in our own lives. Things that people once took for granted_family, community, a sense of belonging_must now be actively sought out because there is a lack of appropriate options.

CoHousing communities, pioneered primarily in Denmark in the early 1970's and now being adapted in other countries, respond to the basic needs of today's households (child care, social contact and economic efficiency) by combining the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of community living. The CoHousing concept reestablishes many of the advantages of traditional villages within the context of late twentieth-century life.

Every household has a private residence and also shares extensive common facilities with the larger group, such as a large commercial scale kitchen, dining hall, children's playroom, workshops, guest rooms and laundry facilities. Although individual dwellings are designed to be self-sufficient and each has its own kitchen, the common facilities, and particularly common dinners, are an important part of community life both for social and practical reasons.

By redefining the neighborhood concept to better address contemporary lifestyles, these resident-involved, cooperative neighborhoods create cross-generational communities composed of singles, couples, families and the elderly. This kind of diversity encourages social interactions rarely seen in suburban neighborhoods and allows individuals to experience and relate to groups with different lifestyles.

CoHousing was brought to the United States by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett, a husband-wife design team based in Berkeley, California. Since 1988, over 150 groups have formed throughout North America with over 25 groups securing land and a dozen completed communities. Based on democratic principles, CoHousing developments espouse no ideology other than the desire for a more practical and social home environment.

For additional information about Projects in the Rocky Mountain region,please call our voice mailbox at 584-3237.

This information was provided by Zev Paiss:

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