Re: The Future of Cohousing
From: Patricia Buddemeyer (buddematt.net)
Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2011 17:04:38 -0800 (PST)
> This is an unprecedented opportunity for the
> cohousing model to take its 20+ years of experience
> and apply it to creating models for affordable,
> rental and lower income housing that is so
> urgently needed in this country

We're trying something here in Pittsburgh that we hope will be a model for 
affordable urban retro-fit cohousing. We're working with a non-profit Community 
Development Corporation (CDC) that bought a 7-unit row house in foreclosure in 
a 
"challenged" neighborhood (only three blocks from where I live now). Four 
households are buying units, and making plans to do a lot of the rehab work 
ourselves. The CDC will hold and rent the remaining units -- to people 
interested in cohousing, or not -- until we can find buyers for those units who 
are interested in cohousing. The CDC is also buying the small single-family 
detached house around the corner and right behind the row, and they own or are 
negotiating with the City to acquire vacant parcels adding up to about 1/3 acre 
adjacent to the row house (and each other) for us to purchase and use as 
outdoor 
common space. We're too small a group now to be able to afford a common house.
   
The rest of the block is pretty blighted -- two vacant, six-unit apartment 
buildings, one fixable and one needing to be torn down, one occupied six-unit 
apartment building, and two other six-unit row houses. The CDC is working on 
acquiring those properties, as well, and has expressed willingness to work with 
us to expand our intentional community all the way around the block.

The block next door is a City high school that is being closed at the end of 
this school year. One of the best magnet high schools in the City, the 
Obama International Baccalaureate Program, is supposed to go in there next year 
or the year after.

We see ourselves as riding the crest of a wave of significant improvement in 
this neighborhood, but we don't want to push the long-term residents out nor 
gentrify the area. We want to keep it affordable for ourselves, too (in 
Pittsburgh, for middle class folks like ourselves, that's under $100k; new 
construction runs around $250k).

At this point, we're negotiating with the CDC to replace the roof on the row 
houses with a membrane material that will allow us to harvest rainwater for the 
garden. We have a grant and are working with Pittsburgh Permaculture to design 
and plant a food forest as well as traditional vegetable/herb/flower gardens, 
and we're talking about sharing food and celebrations with our new neighbors. 
It's very exciting at this visioning stage.
   
In the real world, we have signed sales agreements, have a landscape architect 
to help us plan the green space, and big dreams. A couple of us have submitted 
a 
proposal for a workshop at the cohousing conference, and I hope to meet many of 
you there. We'll see in five months how far we've gotten toward realizing our 
dreams.
   
In the meantime, this is a discussion thread I'm most interested in being part 
of.
    
pat buddemeyer
Borland Green Urban Ecovillage
Pittsburgh, PA
http://BorlandGreen.wordpress.com
(the blog is still very new and pretty thin, but I'm working on it)   

"Nothing we do changes the past, but everything we do changes the future."

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