Age diversity in Cohousing in England
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 2009 05:16:05 -0700 (PDT)
Alan Heeks <progress [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>

This message came by way of Communities Magazine /
Alan is not currently a cohousing-L subscribers so please send him
a copy of replies.

--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

I have been a subscriber to Communities Magazine for several years, and
find it extremely helpful in many ways. I have become one of the
pioneers of cohousing in the UK, and am writing to ask if you can help
me with some relevant experience or contacts on one question we have
recently encountered.

Nearly five years ago, I initiated a small cohousing community, where I
have been living since then: this is the Threshold Centre in Dorset,
which is unique in the UK in offering regular workshops on cohousing,
and also unique in being the first UK cohousing group to partner with a
housing association offering 50% of the units for low-income households.
I am now involved with a new group, seeking to create a cohousing
community of around 30 homes in the south west of England: if you want
to see more, visit <>.

I have used my extensive experience of what to do, and what not to do,
for this new group, and the prospects of success are looking very
promising. We have hit an issue which seems to me quite predictable for
many cohousing groups, but I have not been able to find any relevant
experience in my good range of cohousing books, nor in Creating a Life
Together. The issue is around how units are allocated. The dozen or so
people actively involved in creating the project are almost all single
people or couples without children, in the age range 45-60: I know from
our cohousing workshops that a high proportion of the people actively
involved in many cohousing projects are in this bracket. However, we
don?t want to create a senior cohousing project: we want diversity of
age and family sizes, including families with children.

Several of the people actively involved are quite concerned about how
units will be allocated: if we create a mix of units to attract
families, there may well be a shortage of 1-2 bedroom units suitable for
this age range, and this problem is likely to get worse as we widen our
membership of residents. Some people are concerned about having quotas
or selection processes, but it is pretty clear that some method of
selecting for these units and enabling families to join, even if they
have not put in much work in the early stages, will be needed.

If you can offer me any advice from your experience, or can give me
contacts with people or projects in North America who have figured out a
way to deal with this issue, I would be really grateful.

With all best wishes.

Alan Heeks
The Threshold Centre
Cole Street Farm
Cole Street Lane
Dorset SP8 5JQ
Tel: 01747 835835
progress [at]

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