Re: Examiner article/Fairfax "cohousing
From: Rachel Freifelder (
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 11:16:29 -0500
In following this discussion, I am a little distressed by some of the 
attitudes I perceive (though, as always with text communication it is 
easy to misconstrue someone's intent).  I understand the concern of those 
trying to get cohousing projects approved in the mainstream climate that 
prefers isolated single-family homes, especially in affluent communities 
that are concerned that any kind of shared housing will bring in a bunch 
of low-lifes and reduce their property values.  But it disturbs me that 
in cohousers' efforts to gain that acceptance, they often join the 
mainstream in denigrating other types of shared housing.  This ranges 
from the classic "Cohousing: It's not a Commune" motto to getting upset 
when a reporter erroneously calls a cooperative household "cohousing".
Why assume that adults, single mothers or otherwise,who live 
cooperatively are "homeless people getting on their feet"?  To be sure this 
may be true of some of these projects but not all.  This phrasing implies that 
the cooperative situation is not intended to be a permanent home but 
merely a transitional state preceding something more respectable, such as 
separate housing.  God forbid adults would choose to share a kitchen for any 
reason other than financial need.

An aside: it is possible to fit the definition of cohousing and still 
include cooperative households; I don't know whether this is true of the 
"Vest Pocket" projects or not.  At N Street, over half the households 
include unrelated adults who share a kitchen and meals.  No one (I think) 
denies that we are cohousing.  For that matter,there are a number of 
intentional communities, some more respectable than others, which fit the 
definition of cohousing in that they consist of several separate 
structures with their own bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms, plus one 
main house with a large kitchen and dining room.  

I do not mean to attack Marty's comments particularly, as I don't know 
that much about Innovative Housing.  But as someone who believes deeply 
that shared housing in its many forms offers great good to both the well 
being of our society and to our limited resources, I would like to see 
cohousing as the beginning of its growing acceptance, rather than 
alienated from the rest of the shared living movement.

Rachel R. Freifelder
N Street CoHousing, Davis, CA
"To create community we need to love each other, trust each other and help 
each other; that is hard."
--Wendell Berry

On Wed, 24 Apr 1996 MartyR707 [at] wrote:


> Should we call them
> on it? Innovative Housing is a nonprofit affordable housing organization.  I
> don't know much about them.  I think Katie Mc... of the Cohousing book knows
> Dan Solomon, the architect.  We could ask her to get on his case - or at
> least tell us more about it.
> The article does imply that several families share the same kitchen which
> could cause us trouble with our image.


> I know of other Innovative Housing projects where they buy a large house and
> then several families rent it together to save on rent - often single
> mothers.  It's used often to get homeless people on their feet. 


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