Introduction to Co-Housing Hamilton 

What is Cohousing?

Cohousing is a form of intentional community for older adults or intergenerational living where people actively create a neighbourhood that combines the autonomy of privately-owned, individual dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living. Co-developed, co-designed and managed by the residents, a cohousing community typically consists of between 10 and 35 dwelling units, plus common space.

The housing units are self-contained and could be attached or detached bungalows, stacked townhouses, a low-rise building with condo type apartments, or a combination thereof. There will also be a large common house which can be viewed as an extension of individual living space, as it will be the place where meals can be shared (the number of which is up to the individual), as well as amenities such as a commercial kitchen, comfortable lounge, exercise room, workshop, guest suite, whatever the group decides.

The individual dwelling units are owned and there will be a monthly fee for the common space; residents can do all or some of the maintenance work required. Resources and tools such as lawnmowers, power tools and bicycles for example can be shared, thereby reducing the cost to individuals. Cars are parked on the periphery of the site and the interior holds the common house, gardens (including a vegetable garden), and pathways. 

This is all somewhat speculative at this point but is typical of cohousing communities. Cohousing includes smaller dwellings, collective decision-making and equitable access to the community-owned property. As a result, it provides a supportive social network and sense of community while also allowing for control of one’s life and participation in decision-making, setting policy and property management.

The modern concept of cohousing originated in Denmark in the 1960s, was brought to North America in the 1980s by architects Charles Durrett and Katie McCamant and is currently found throughout the world. Here in Canada, there are cohousing communities from the east coast to the west coast, each one a unique expression of the people who built them and live in them. Most are located in B.C. with 11 completed projects in that province. In Ontario, there are eight cohousing communities in various stages of development with one small cohousing development in Ottawa, Terra Firma, completed.

Cohousing Hamilton

Cohousing Hamilton was founded in early 2020 with the incentive of funding through Hamilton Aging in Community, the dedication of several visionary volunteers and under the guidance of consultants, Cohousing Options Canada.

Our Vision, Mission and Values

Vision – Our homes will exist within an inclusive intentional community in a healthy, sustainable, and fun environment. We are caring neighbours who build upon each other’s strengths and are respectful of individual differences. Our common spaces will facilitate the sharing of meals, resources and social connections as well as welcoming others into our neighbourhood.

Mission – We will build and live in a welcoming and vibrant intergenerational, caring, cooperative, a sustainable intentional community in the Hamilton area by 2024. We will foster autonomy and privacy while cultivating neighbourly support and a deep sense of community. We will work collaboratively, each contributing to the extent of our abilities, talents and resources. Through sharing and mutual support, we will foster creativity, personal growth, and quality of life for our members.

Values – Our values are inclusive, interdependent and independent, collaborative through open communication, caring, believing in the stewardship of the environment, community and ourselves.

New Membership Protocol

Step 1. Observer, for up to 2 months at no cost

Preparation for observer status involves going through orientation steps guided by a buddy from the group. Observers can listen in on meetings, with an opportunity after each meeting to ask questions, to learn about who we are and how we make decisions.

Step 2. Explorer, participation in decision making and as a member on one or more of the committees/teams; $150 for the first 3 months and $350 quarterly thereafter

Step 3. Member, as the group is incorporating, fully participating with voting rights, contributing financially towards ownership on an incremental scale.

Current Status of Cohousing Hamilton

At present, we are a core group of 10 people, very organized with the assistance of consultants, Cohousing Options Canada. Our steering committee meets weekly and we meet as a group either as a whole or, on alternate weeks, in one of our three committees (Membership/Social, Outreach/Communications and Finance/Legal), all via Zoom for now.  The next committees to be formed will be Site Selection and Site Design. We have established a website, Facebook site and monthly newsletter. The advantage to becoming involved during the early stages is that you will have a say in decision making at whatever point we’re at. We will be hiring an Architect sometime this year (2021).

Coming Up

We will be hosting regular Coffee & Cohousing meetings (via Zoom in the foreseeable future) as follows:

  • Wed May 26, 6:30 t0 8:00 pm
  • Mon Jun 21, 7:30 t0 9:00
  • Sat July 24, 11:00 to 12:30
  • Wed Aug 25, 7:30 to 9:00
  • Sat Sept 25, 11:00 to 12:30
  • Tues Oct 26, 6:30 to 8:00
  • Sat Nov 27, 11:00 to 12:30
  • Wed Dec 15, 7:30 to 9:00

You can contact Judy below for the zoom link or if you have any questions:

Judy Shepalo at cohousinghamilton@gmail.com or call 905 517 6494


Resources

Websites:

Questionnaire:

This Questionnaire can assist you in deciding if Cohousing is a good fit for you: https://ca.surveygizmo.com/s3/50069704/Is-Hamilton-Cohousing-right-for-you

Videos:

Our Lending Library has two videos available:

  • The Best of Both Worlds (2019 documentary DVD on cohousing) and
  • How to Start a New Affordable Cohousing Project (2020), both by the North American leader in Cohousing, Charles Durrett.

Books:

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  1. The Senior Cohousing Handbook is a comprehensive guide to joining or creating a cohousing project, written by the U.S. leader in the field, Charles Durrett, the architect who brought the modern version of cohousing to North America from Denmark in the 1980s. The author deals with all the psychological and logistical aspects of senior cohousing and addresses common concerns, fears, and misunderstandings. He emphasizes the many positive benefits of cohousing including:
    • Better physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health
    • Rich built-in social network
    • Safety and security
    • Affordability
    • Shared resources
    • Mutual support

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  1. Creating Cohousing, Building Sustainable Communities is an in-depth exploration of cohousing for those who value their independence but long for more connection with those around them. Written by Charles Durrett and his team this fully-illustrated manual combines nuts-and-bolts practical considerations and design ideas with extensive case studies of dozens of diverse communities in Europe and North America.

  1. Housing Options for Older Adults in Hamilton

Prepared by The Senior’s Advisory Committee

This resource guide provides important information about housing and housing alternatives such as Home Sharing for seniors in Hamilton. It is meant to help individuals stay in their own homes as long as they are able to, then, as circumstances change, help them to gather as much information as possible to better understand options and assist with decisions about future housing.

Contents include:

  • Co-housing
  • Co-operative housing
  • Emergency housing
  • Garden suites
  • Home-sharing
  • Life lease housing
  • Renovating – staying in your current home
  • Tips to keep your home safe

To view the brochure, visit https://www.hamilton.ca/sites/default/files/media/browser/2016-01-12/hamilton-housing-options-guide-seniors-older-adults-1.pd