Re: Age diversity in Cohousing in England
From: Diane (
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 2009 09:26:00 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Alan,
Here at Cambridge Cohousing we too were concerned about having a range
on ages and family types.    So, from the start, we decided to reserve
one-third of our units for families with children under 15 because, in
our urban setting, that was the hardest group to attract.   We do have
a variety of unit sizes from studios to four bedroom town houses, but
that doesn't seem to be the deciding factor as we have a family with
children in a one bedroom unit and a single person in a four bedroom
town house.

We are a very stable community with, on average, one turnover each
year.  We have 41 units.   Given this stability, we are gradually
loosing our children as they go off to college and becoming seniors as
we age and retire. When we do get a vacancy, we do all we can to
attract young families.  But it doesn't always work.   Our units are
quite expensive because Cambridge is quite expensive.   There were
attempts initially to limit the amount of profit those who left the
community could take with them in order to create an affordability
fund with the difference, but those efforts met stiff opposition and

On Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 8:15 AM, Fred H Olson<fholson [at]> wrote:
> 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
> Gillingham
> Dorset SP8 5JQ
> Tel: 01747 835835
> progress [at]
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Diane Margolis
175 Richdale Av.
Cambridge, MA 02140
617 354 1349

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