Co-housing

The Latest:  WINC is featured in an article on collaborative housing in the latest (#51) Sanctuary magazine.You can read the article here or right click to download a copy. For more information about Sanctuary, visit www.sanctuary.renew.org.au

Co-housing exists in many countries and many forms. What is common is that co-housing:

  • Consists of a small residential ‘village’, usually ranging from very small (eg, 8) to its recommended maximum (30), though occasionally a little larger
  • Exists to create community and achieve the aims of its members
  • Is run by the residents, usually governed by a consensus process
  • Fosters community through shared activities, while also appreciating privacy
  • Creates a more affordable form of living, where shared resources and intentional design can keep costs down
  • Contributes to sustainability and addresses concerns for the environment
  • Has terrific potential to foster wellbeing, minimise isolation and contribute to healthy ageing, as well as provide intergenerational benefits.

Colour cards used in consensus decision-making
 

What does this mean for WINC?
Well, first, we’re a group of older women – aged between 50 and 75 (at the moment…), most of us are lesbian but not all. We also welcome women who don’t identify as lesbian. We plan to create a positive, vibrant community where older women and lesbian feminism are highly valued.


Women’s Property Initiatives – our partner

WINC’s cohousing will be a community of 24-30 homes designed to enable older women of varying incomes and backgrounds to cooperate and thrive in a mutually supportive environment. So WINC’s cohousing will have:

  • A minimum of four homes for women eligible for social housing – they will rent from Women’s Property Initiatives, who will own these WINC homes and rent them to WINC women who are on the Victorian Housing Register
  • Homes owned by women who may need some assistance to purchase – we are working very hard to find programs and investors to fund the gap for those who don’t have all the assets to purchase
  • Homes owned by women who are able to buy outright
  • A few of the latter homes will be available for rent for some years, until the owner wishes to live in the community.

While those who live there will be older women, visitors of all kinds and ages will be welcome. We all have family – children, brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers, and friends who we hope will come visit us. We will have guest rooms in the Commonhouse that we can book when we have visitors we want to stay over. And of course, residents can have visitors stay in their homes as well. We’ll have a few regular shared meals in the Commonhouse (we’re thinking three times a week), and when the Commonhouse isn’t in use for that, the kitchen and dining room can be booked for birthdays, family gatherings, movie nights and whatever other creative mischief we get up to.

Benefits of cohousing
In general, living costs in cohousing are cheaper than living in single or couple-based households because some community resources and activities can be shared – think shared laundry, shared power supply, shared internet, shared exercise equipment, tools, carpooling, skill sharing and on.
But that doesn’t mean we share everything! We anticipate 24-30 individual small private dwellings. Each will include a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping and living areas – including private outdoor space (fenced, and yes, dogs allowed). This means everyone will have their own space to retreat and entertain and run their own life as they desire.
Various economies of scale are planned, with large solar arrays, waste-water management systems and utility connections like internet that are cheaper when shared between multiple households.
We will also share the work of maintaining our permaculture-inspired gardens, and no doubt will often find ourselves carpooling and sharing electric cars.


The Senior Cohousing Handbook by Charles Durrett

Sharing Cohousing
One of the aims of WINC is to encourage the development of more cohousing communities. We are happy to share what we have learned and developed over time with new communities in development. We have received several grants to pay for legal work and we will share contracts and other information developed through these grants free of charge to other cohousing groups.