Re: The Future of Cohousing
From: Richart Keller (
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2011 12:36:07 -0800 (PST)
Delighted that you all are taking this on--it sounds like a potential
example of the kind of situation where the cohousing model might be
applicable and which could provide some important lessons for others as

Hope to see you at the conference.

Best of luck!


Richart Keller, AICP
Pioneer Valley Cohousing
120 Pulpit Hill Road #25
Amherst, MA 01002
401 486-2677 (cell)

-----Original Message-----
From: Patricia Buddemeyer [mailto:buddem [at]] 
Sent: Saturday, February 05, 2011 8:05 PM
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ The Future of Cohousing

> 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
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
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
negotiating with the City to acquire vacant parcels adding up to about 1/3
adjacent to the row house (and each other) for us to purchase and use as
common space. We're too small a group now to be able to afford a common
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
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
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
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
garden. We have a grant and are working with Pittsburgh Permaculture to
and plant a food forest as well as traditional vegetable/herb/flower
and we're talking about sharing food and celebrations with our new
It's very exciting at this visioning stage.
In the real world, we have signed sales agreements, have a landscape
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
you there. We'll see in five months how far we've gotten toward realizing
In the meantime, this is a discussion thread I'm most interested in being
pat buddemeyer
Borland Green Urban Ecovillage
Pittsburgh, PA
(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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