What is it Cohousing?

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Cohousing is a relatively new way of conscious living that has become established in many countries around the world.

In the UK, there is interest in building cohousing communities, and especially in a low-cost community housing, on the rise. This is the development of a new area where there is a great passion for rapid growth and efforts to solve the difficult situation in the housing for a large number of families and individuals.

Cohousing communities are communities with a purpose, created and run by their residents. In addition to providing housing, most projects also focus on a sustainable ecological lifestyle and benefit the wider community, not just their project.

Each household has a self-contained, private home as well as shared community space. Residents come together to manage their community, share activities, and regularly eat together.

Cohousing communities can be inter-generational, welcoming anyone of any age and any family structure, or specifically to cater for people who are older or are communities of common interest, for example for women, LGBT groups or climate change.

This is a way of resolving the isolation many people experience today, recreating the neighbourly support of the past. Additionally it's a way to teach children to live in a living community, not just behind computers and cell phones.

This can happen anywhere, in your street or starting a new community using empty homes or building new ones. Legal forms and functioning of cohousing groups are very diverse because each group tailors them on its own.

Most of the cohousing communities have a common house, with shared facilities such as cooking and dining spaces, meeting and playing areas, laundries and guest rooms. This may mean that the private dwellings are smaller as residents also have the benefit of the common facilities. Shared outside space for gardens, children’s play, parties, and food growing often feature in a cohousing project.

The size and scale of cohousing are appropriate to support community dynamics for easy informal communal contact; this is usually between 5-40 households.

Residents manage their own community, looking after the maintenance and development of it, running the finances, tending the gardens, organizing shared activities.

The community is governed in a non-hierarchical way, often using consensus decision making.

All adult residents are encouraged to take part in decision making; some communities also require residents to undertake a set number of hours work for the community.

However, many people do not realize that there is a completely different system of management and care for the whole project, and that they have to take part in the running of the community.

Although the original intention was to build these communities as affordable housing for people who could not reach a normal mortgage, at the moment this vision has not yet come true and housing is even more expensive here. This is due to the common area being included in the price of each home. 

By the government promised funding for this type of housing is not easily reachable for groups. This is why so many groups who want to start building their own projects have been stepping on the same stage for years before they get some result – or give up their hope.

Especially after the UK’s departure from the EU, it is expected that grants for the cohousing projects will be even more difficult to reach, therefore, it is necessary to look for other ways to create cohousing projects.
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