Letters to the Editor

Co-housing fan

May 6, 2007

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To the editor:

At least one of your readers (Public Forum, May 2) missed the point of your informative recent article about co-housing. I've had the good fortune to live in two co-housing communities, and in my experience they share little in common with condo or apartment projects.

Co-housing residents make a thoughtful commitment to join a community, sharing some facilities and decision-making, while maintaining their family's independent living unit and lifestyle. In addition to providing a supportive, pleasant and environmentally oriented place to live, my co-housing experience has taught me much about life. The simple process of sharing some of the tasks and pleasures of daily living, whether constructing a children's playground, cleaning out a storeroom, arranging flowers for the common house or shopping and preparing a meal for one's neighbors made me much more appreciative of not only my co-housing community but the larger community around me.

As for the price of co-housing, this is difficult to judge as there really is nothing directly comparable. However, the groups that I'm aware of in the western states have waiting lists for purchase of available units, which rarely come up for sale.

Terry L. Smith,

Lawrence

Comments

raines 8 years, 2 months ago

Hey, Terry, great to see you up here. Yep, I've heard cohousing called "the most expensive personal growth workshop you'll ever take" because of the cost of the home in community, but I like to think of it as the most affordable postgraduate education you can find anywhere on housing development and community development... and if you're lucky, you'll get a place to live out of the deal!

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach off to a groundbreaking today for Fresno (CA) Cohousing

LogicMan 8 years, 2 months ago

Well ... I wish this group the best. However, from much experience with rental properties ('toilets and tenants'), I unfortunately predict ultimate failure. Why? Because people will get lazy, old, broke, etc., and not carry their fair share of the load. Then the others will have to carry more of the maintenance and financial burdens, and they will for a short time, but then things will start slipping. Then the properties will be divided by the courts, via bankruptcies, divorces, estate settlements, etc.

I'd bet no more than seven years. But please prove me wrong! Wouldn't be the first time ...

8 years, 2 months ago

I've had a lot of experience with co-op living as opposed to co-house living. The co-ops in town are great places to live while attending college or meeting people but they're basically "hippie dorms" with a really high turnover rate. It seems to me that co-housing is a logical step forward from the co-op lifestyle. A graduation, if you will. It seems like a great way to take all the best properties of communal living and evolve them. I wish Deleware Commons the best of luck. If I had the means my family would join up in a heartbeat.

altarego 8 years, 2 months ago

I can safely say that at least one of the readers did not miss the point of the aforementioned article, but rather is unconvinced of the hyperbole attached to the project, and would like to believe that there is more to it than a cynical way to drive up the cost of a condominium, and a legal way to screen the riff-raff.

Following Logicman, please, please, prove this reader, who is depending on the success of this community to restore his faith in humanity, wrong.

RJ_Mettlehorst 8 years, 2 months ago

Altarego, there are many ways to "drive up the cost of a conodminium", but building a co-housing project from scratch must be among the least profitable. No one with a profit motive would take seven years to put together a condo project with a bunch of other amateur developers who actually plan to live in the place themselves.

Logicman, these people have already beaten your seven-year forecast; they've already worked together for seven and a half years making this happen. Members have indeed gone broke, gotten lazy, and aged, but the group is still plugging away. Now there's six new buildings to attest to their tenacity. We can expect them to be around for quite a while.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

I lived in one of the previously existing houses on this property several years ago, which was then owned by Carl Mibeck. I was a co-host there of some of the best parties I ever participated in. Nothing like 4 acres of grass and trees in the middle of town, complete with a tennis court for a bandstand and dance floor.

Such "developments" as this are sometimes referred to as intentional communities. Some fail miserably, others are quite successful, with lots somewhere between.

This one appears to have a fair amount of autonomy built in. Each will have their own, complete living unit, for which they will have sole rights and responsibilities. There will be common areas, but it also appears that each member will be obligated to contribute to its maintenance.

It's not for everyone, but I would expect that they'll easily find the two or three dozen people that it will take to fill it. There'll be turnover over the years, but I predict that it will succeed.

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