Letter: What about co-housing?

While the aging baby boomer generation does not like to be called seniors, many of us are now in our 60s and have successfully raised our families. A common topic is, “What are we going to do when we get old?”

For many seniors, the response is, “Let’s buy some land and live together.” This suggests the co-housing model where families come together, form a community and build a project where they own their individual, fully furnished units and share common facilities. The common facilities normally include a kitchen and dining room for community evening meals and gatherings.

Attached suites for visiting guests are usually included, eliminating the need for extra bedroom space. Libraries, shops and art rooms are other functions I have seen included. Having visited several multi-generational and senior-specific co-housing projects in California and Boulder, I found the occupants are thriving and enjoying their new found neighbors and friends. Morning bike rides, gardening, evening cards and movies are weekly occurrences. I have even experienced teenagers cooking the evening meal.

Many baby boomers no longer need their family homes, which can provide housing opportunities for younger, growing families in the valley. Having studied the ins and outs of senior co-housing and explored opportunities in the midvalley with a likely group of occupants, we encountered the same road blocks as many affordable housing projects. Land costs are high in the valley and cost-prohibitive to creating an affordable senior co-housing community for our aging population.

Others have experienced this same phenomenon and reached the same conclusion. Still, there is a need and an opportunity in our valley that should be filled. We have shared our findings with one local planning and zoning board that was willing to work with us toward a solution, but land and development costs are the real obstacle.

There is a need and a growing interest in solving this housing challenge. Over the years, several different groups have formed in the valley to explore senior-housing options. The movement is growing stronger,a and it will likely take an investment angel for such a project to reach fruition.

I am a registered architect and a senior who is eager to hear from the community and explore a plan with funding from an angel.

Doug Graybeal