Re: Including disabled people in cohousing, especially forming communities
From: Catya Belfer (
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2017 04:42:51 -0700 (PDT)
My two cents:  I fall into the "invisible disability" bucket - chronic pain
and fatigue with chemical sensitivity, "fibromyalgia" diagnosis.   I was
much "sicker" / less well controlled when my group was in development
(2000-2009) than I am now.

Disability is a very individual thing - sometimes it's about getting around
the community in a chair or with a walker, sometimes it's using zero VOC
everything, sometimes it's what handles are on the doors, sometimes it's
shorter meetings with more breaks, or what time meetings are, sometimes
it's planning for service dogs in the common house.

My best advice: get involved.  be about how you can contribute TO the
community, not what you can get or what you need FROM it.   Be the one to
research ramps or zero VOC products or to ask for facilitation training or
more manageable meetings / delegation to teams / etc.  Especially in the
forming stage, you can do much of the work regardless of physical ability.

     - cat

Catya Belfer   -
Technical Director   -
Cohousing in MA -

On Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 3:28 PM, Allison Tom <allison.tom [at]> wrote:

> Hello all,
> This is a significant tangent from the discussion on slush funds, but the
> spirit of the conversation has moved me to write with my question/topic.
> What have communities done to include members who have significant
> disabilities?  In particular, has anyone successfully negotiated the
> challenge of including disabled people in a forming community?
> I ask because I regretfully left a forming community almost two years ago
> because of an exhausting chronic health condition.  I’m now on the waiting
> list to return to that community, and I’m thinking hard about how I could
> return successfully or be part of any other forming community.
> My condition makes the frequent marathon meetings of planning an almost
> insurmountable challenge.  I believe that living in cohousing is a very
> different pace from creating cohousing, and I think that I can contribute
> and thrive in a community - with some accommodations to my condition.
> Joining an existing community in my city is very difficult because there
> are so few spots.
> I’m a former professor now on medical leave.  I’m self-sufficient and
> currently own and maintain my own home (I pay for household and garden
> help).
> What strategies have groups explored or implemented to extend the
> cohousing goal of inclusivity to people with various disabilities?
> I look forward to hearing from folks with experience or advise on- or
> off-list.
> Thanks, Allison Tom
> allison.tom [at]
> NB: I am planning on submitting an article about this to the “Race, class
> and privilege” issue of Communities magazine.
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