Re: The Future of Cohousing
From: David Hornick (
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2011 08:24:57 -0800 (PST)
To Harold Shapiro's comment, I'd like to add the following questions:

How can the effort be organized?

Who frames the important questions to be addressed?  How are the questions
presented to the 'community of interest'?  Who decides which answers address
the important questions most effectively?

In addition to this listserve, how can Internet technology be harnessed to
facilitate the communication process and reduce the cost of cohousing?

Is there interest  and ability to define cohousing solutions for urban,
suburban and rural America that avoid the current long development cycles?

Is there documented proof that the current approach to developing cohousing
is necessary and unavoidable? If so, what is that proof?  What are the
benefit vs burden arguments for and against that approach?

Today's NY Times contains an article that frames some questions of crucial
importance to housing the rapidly inreasing number of people over age 65:

I encourage readers to look at the included graphic and click on the video
button that animates the graph.  Doing so provides a clear indication for
addressing the need for senior cohousing as well as intergenerational

This article poses several important questions for which cohousing could
provide helpful solutions.  To do so, however, cohousing must develop
systems that permit rapid development of cohousing communities.  Hopefully,
the first 30 years of cohousing experience has provided an adequate
foundation to create diverse solutions to the many social, economic and
housing challenges of the next 30 years.

Confronting the issue of housing our BabyBoom Generation is one area of
engagement for cohousing.  The 92,000 Americans over age 100 that live in
America today will grow to over 1 million over the next 30 years.  Providing
cost-effective supportive living requires a broad range of expertise and
talent.  Cohousing offers the promise of addressing social support along
with affordable, appropriately designed, energy-efficient housing.  Failure
to successfully address this issue will threaten the welfare of all

The current approach to producing cohousing living is too expensive,
inefficient and inaccessible to the majority of aging Americans.  There is
an urgent need to reform and refine the process and to create model projects
that can be applied to urban, suburban, and rural living.

My expertise is providing in-home medical / health care to homebound people
(currently 1 in 20 people over age 65).  In that capacity, I have been
impressed that home design and landscaping have enormous impact on quality
of life of people with functional deficits.  I have become interested in
universal design as a way to enable people to remain in their homes and
avoid institutionalizaiton.  While I don't profess to be a housing
developer, I am willing to contribute my expertise to creating a workable
solution for senior cohousing.

Perhaps manufactured housing will provide standardized solutions for
cohousing that addresses the special issues related to urban, suburban, and
rural cohousing.  These solutions must address interior design, energy
conservation, healthcare delivery and social organization.

Lastly, the discussions in this listserve demonstrate that 'design by
committee' for each cohousing project does not ensure ongoing cooperation
among the residents.  That cooperation is an ongoing process.  Insisting on
collaborative design of each cohousing community by the prospective
residents is no longer acceptable as a sine qua non of cohousing.   Design
problems exist in many (if not all) cohousing communities despite (and,
perhaps, due to) the collaborative effort involving architects and
prospective residents.   I have yet to meet an architect who doesn't profess
intimate familiarity with universal design.  The results of the efforts of
these professionals rarely (if ever) demonstrate careful adherence to
universal design principles.  That expertise is available, however, at such
places as the Center for Universal Design of North Carolina State
University, SUNY Buffalo Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental
Access, and The Institute for Human Centered Design in Boston.  By involving
such experts, I suspect that we'll have a much better outcome than depending
on architects and consumers with incomplete knowledge of universal design.

Let's continue to talk.

David Hornick
David N. Hornick, M.D., M.P.H.
Homedical Associates
16 Crimson Oak Court
Schenectady, NY  12309-2234
Office: (518) 346-3100
Mobil: (518) 878-9355 (preferred)
Skype:  davidhor

On Sat, Feb 5, 2011 at 1:37 PM, Harold Shapiro, CRE <hmshapiro2010 [at]
> wrote:

> Zev,
> The issue you so well articulated goes way beyond just cohousing. The
> paradigm shift is so demanding that we each need to look inward and
> reevaluate our roles in this unfolding time. I believe you have what it
> takes to be a positive contributor to the unfolding dialogue
> regarding evolutionary cohousing and the personal growth it demands on all
> of our parts. Let me make one suggestion as a beginning however. Instead of
> just asking those of us to join you in this challenge, the new paradigm is
> demanding us to ask a different question. That is 'with whom can I join'.
> Let's talk
> Harold Shapiro
> ElderFire Communities
> Ojai, Ca.
> On Sat, Feb 5, 2011 at 7:48 AM, Zev Paiss <zpaiss [at]> wrote:
> >
> > Hello Friends Old and New,
> >
> > This thread around rental cohousing is something I believe the
> > cohousing world will need to take very seriously in the coming years.
> > When I became involved in cohousing in 1991 the world was a different
> > place. Back then, there were "only" 5.5 billion people on the planet
> > where today, only 20 years later, there is an estimated 6.9 billion
> > people. Exponential growth is a powerful thing. Populations everywhere
> > are bumping up against the limits of fresh water, food, liquid fuels,
> > and jobs in many parts of the world and right here in America.
> >
> > I have had the pleasure and the challenge of been at the forefront of
> > innovation in the cohousing movement since I began. These include
> > helping to create the Rocky Mountain Cohousing Association, the
> > CoHousing Journal, eight regional inserts, a color cover, the first
> > Cohousing website, beginning to accept credit cards, starting an
> > online store, coordinating several regional then the first few
> > National conferences, and creating the Elder Cohousing Network.
> >
> > The question before us now is how does cohousing address the
> > monumental transformations in housing now confronting American
> > society. As Kate Ben-Ami stated in her message earlier this week,
> >
> >        "I understood that it'll take time for the COHO community to
> realize
> > the complete
> >        paradigm shift that has occurred in this country (with regard to
> > home
> > ownership)."
> >
> > 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. Cohousing needs creative leadership who has the
> > experience, leadership and connections to take us in this direction.
> >
> > Who is ready to join me in this challenge?
> >
> > Zev Paiss
> > Nomad Cohousing
> > Boulder, Colorado
> > zpaiss [at]
> > 303-413-8066
> > _________________________________________________________________
> > Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:
> >
> >
> >
> >
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