By Diane Margolis and David Entin
Cohousing is a form of collaborative housing designed to emphasize social contact among community members while preserving and respecting individual privacy. Private homes, which contain all the features of conventional homes, are builtwithin a compound that affords easy access to extensive common facilities such as open space, courtyards, a playground and a common house. The common house is the center of most cohousing communities. Typically it includes a large dining room and kitchen, recreational facilities for adults and children, a guest room, and workshops.
The cohousing idea originated in Denmark in the mid-twentieth century and was introduced to the U.S. in the nineteen-nineties. Now, in 2011, there are 118 cohousing built communities in the U.S. and an equal number in various stages of formation and construction. The majority of cohousing communities are on the west (43%) and east (38%) coasts They tend to be located near large cities or in university towns.
In 2010, the Board of the Cohousing Association of the United States began athree-phase research project in order to better serve its existing constituency, assist those wishing to form new communities, and promote the value of cohousing. This report describes the first phase, an extensive survey to gain more information about existing cohousing communities, and a second phase of three open-ended questions.