Re: Are We Done with the Rental Issue?
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2011 09:39:35 -0800 (PST)
I think the cohousing future is just as robust (or not) as the future of
housing generally.  Having previously said that there is no particular
reason for cohousing to be cheaper than ³regular² housing, I will modify
that dogma a bit:

Multifamily housing ? starting with ³townhouses² or ³row houses², and
progressing to ³apartment buildings² ? has a significant competitive cost
edge on single family housing.  On a per square foot basis, it¹s cheaper to
develop, cheaper to operate, pays lower taxes, and so on.  But Americans
don¹t want to live in ³apartment buildings², they want to live single
family, in the burbs.  And indeed, some cohousing developments look and feel
very suburban ? by the intent of the founders, of course.

But the cohousing philosophy of live-closer-and-share-more is highly
conducive to a multi-family construction solution.  If cohousing has a
unique and enduring role to play in affordability, it might be that of
further de-stigmatizing multi-family configurations, such that (a) more
zoning ordinances would allow for it, and (b) more middle class households
would find it acceptable: a step up, not a step back.

Philip Dowds AIA
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On 2/15/11 11:03 AM, "Zev Paiss" <zpaiss [at]> wrote:

> Friends,
> Just curious to know if Grace's suggestion that all of us who are
> interested in Rental Cohousing join their committee has finished this
> discussion? What we need is strong leadership to help adapt the
> American cohousing model to address this pressing issue.  I am
> concerned that with the constraints on home construction and purchase
> for most people, cohousing will not have a very robust future.
> Zev
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