Cohousing is a form of intentional community for older adults or intergenerational living where people actively create a neighbourhood that combines the autonomy of privately-owned, individual dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living. Co-developed, co-designed and managed by the residents, a cohousing community typically consists of between 10 and 35 dwelling units, plus common space.
The housing units are self-contained and could be attached or detached bungalows, stacked townhouses, a low-rise building with condo type apartments, or combination thereof. There will also be a large common house which can be viewed as an extension of individual living space, as it will be the place where meals can be shared (the number of which is up to the individual), as well as amenities such as a commercial kitchen, comfortable lounge, exercise room, workshop, guest suite, whatever the group decides.
The individual dwelling units are owned and there will be a monthly fee for the common space; residents can do all or some of the maintenance work required. Resources and tools such as lawnmowers, power tools and bicycles for example can be shared, thereby reducing the cost to individuals. Cars are parked on the periphery of the site and the interior holds the common house, gardens (including a vegetable garden), and pathways.
This is all somewhat speculative at this point but is typical of cohousing communities. Cohousing includes smaller dwellings, collective decision-making and equitable access to community-owned property. As a result it provides a supportive social network and sense of community while also allowing for control of one’s life and participation in decision-making, setting policy and property management.
The modern concept of cohousing originated in Denmark in the 1960s, was brought to North America in the 1980s by architects Charles Durrett and Katie McCamant and is currently found throughout the world. Here in Canada, there are cohousing communities from the east coast to the west coast, each one a unique expression of the people who built them and live in them. Most are located in B.C. with 11 completed projects in that province. In Ontario, there are eight cohousing communities in various stages of development with one small cohousing development in Ottawa, Terra Firma, completed.
New Membership Protocol
Observer for up to 2 months at no cost. Preparation for observer status involves going though orientation steps guided by a buddy from the group. Observers can listen in on meetings, with an opportunity after each meeting to ask questions, to learn about who we are and how we make decisions.
Member, as the group is incorporating, fully participating with voting rights, contributing financially towards ownership on an incremental scale.
Current Status of
Cohousing In Hamilton
Since January 2020, under the auspices of Hamilton Aging in Community, Cohousing Hamilton has been working toward our goal of establishing the first cohousing community in the Hamilton area by 2025. With the help of consultants Cohousing Options Canada, in our first year we became very organized and stayed on track, methodically working toward our goal one step at a time. We’ve done considerable work on creating our committees, decision making, non-violent communication skills, values, vision & mission and fears and concerns.
At the present time we have a solid core group of 12 people and five committees or circles as we prefer to call them – Steering, Membership/Social, Outreach/Communication, Legal/Finance, Planning and most recently a Site Search committee. We were divided in terms of demographics but have agreed to be what we call grandgenerational meaning predominantly seniors-led and oriented but including younger families, singles and couples. In fact we want to be as inclusive as possible and are hoping to have a diverse community. Those who join Cohousing Hamilton become involved in the decision making process at whatever point we’re at and are asked to join one or more committees.
After much research and deliberation, we decided on consultants to take us through to the end of the project, Jennifer Barrett and Chris Kailing from Ottawa. We will likely evolve to a condo type of ownership upon completion of the project. There will be rental options available though we have not yet worked out the details on what that will look like.
We will be hosting regular Coffee & Cohousing meetings (via Zoom in the foreseeable future). Please visit the website for Cohousing Hamilton for dates.
The Senior Cohousing Handbook is a comprehensive guide to joining or creating a cohousing project, written by the U.S. leader in the field, Charles Durrett, the architect who brought the modern version of cohousing to North America from Denmark in the 1980s. The author deals with all the psychological and logistical aspects of senior cohousing, and addresses common concerns, fears, and misunderstandings. He emphasizes the many positive benefits of cohousing including; better physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, Rich built in social network, safety and security, affordability, shared resources, and mutual support.
Creating Cohousing, Building Sustainable Communities is an in-depth exploration of cohousing for those who values their independence but long for more connection with those around them. Written by Charles Durrett and his team this fully-illustrated manual combines nuts-and-bolts practical considerations and design ideas with extensive case studies of dozens of diverse communities in Europe and North America.
This resource guide provides important information about housing and housing alternatives such as Home Sharing for seniors in Hamilton. It is meant to help individuals stay in their own home as long as they are able to, then, as circumstances change, help them to gather as much information as possible to better understand options and assist with decisions about future housing.