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Filling the "Missing MIddle" of Housing
STRATEGY #2: Provide Technical Assistance for Cohousing


Why Cohousing?
Cohousing is characterized by smaller than average individually-owned units, which is possible because cohousing typically has more common spaces than other types of multi-family housing. This is because people who are interested in cohousing find each other before they find, or build, a place to live. They make basic decisions, like preferred location and how much shared space they want, and can afford, before they even start looking for a site.
In high-demand areas, cohousing usually has more units of housing per acre than average, so the land costs per unit can be much less than average. In urban areas, cohousing groups build new housing on vacant lots, or add new units to existing properties. In rural areas, cohousing groups build new housing in clusters, rather than "sprawled" along road frontages, again keeping land costs per unit lower than average, while reducing development pressures on agricultural land and natural areas. In either case, urban or rural, cohousing is a strategy that helps fill the "missing middle" of housing where it is most needed.

Cohousing Missing Middle

Why Provide Technical Assistance for Cohousing?
Once a group of people decides they want to enter into the legal and social contracts that underpin cohousing communities, they enter the world of real estate development. They must search for a site that matches their needs, preferences, and budget. They must hire an architect, a developer, and a contractor. They must negotiate with lenders and with city staff. In short, they need to establish multiple relationships with people across the spectrum of agencies and organizations involved with real estate development in their community. Or they need technical assistance from a reputable team with a successful track record, if not with the participatory planning and design processes specific to cohousing, then with participatory planning and design processes in general (there is a link to our "Participatory Community Planning & Design" page below).
The need for technical assistance for cohousing is similar to the need for technical assistance for homeowners who want to add an Accessory Dwelling Unit (as described in The Future of Housing Strategy #1). However, where the communication, knowledge, and trust gaps between homeowners and contractors are barriers to tackling an ADU project, those gaps are an order of magnitude greater when it comes to cohousing. The example cohousing projects below illustrate the potential cohousing has to helping fill the "missing middle" of housing, the cohousing development process, and the need to provide technical assistance to cohousing groups so that potential can be realized.

If you would like help with a cohousing project, we will be glad to hear from you.
Forward to our "Contact Us & Invitation" page >>
Cohousing book

All City of Madison public libraries now have copies of "The Book" on cohousing!

"Cohousing balances privacy and independence with the benefits of living in community. This completely revised and updated third edition of the “cohousing bible” invites readers into these sustainable neighborhoods, and provides practical tools for developing their own."

- Check availability: Search "Linkcat" -

Many thanks for grants from the Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of the Capital Times.

The links to cohousing projects below are courtesy of Design Coalition Inc. Architects:
Union Corners

"Cohousing at Union Corners" is Now CoHo Madison!

In 2016 Design Coalition Institute partnered with the team that brought the idea of Cohousing to Wisconsin, our colleagues at Design Coalition Architects, to respond to requests for technical assistance for a new cohousing community. We produced a series of technical workshops and preliminary designs for a very enthusiastic group! Construction began for CoHo Madison in Fall of 2018. More about Cohousing at Union Corners from www.DesignCoalition.org .....

Many thanks for grants from the New Harvest Foundation, Dane County, and the City of Madison.

Village Cohousing

"Village Cohousing"

In 1991, our colleagues at Design Coalition Architects held a series of workshops to introduce the idea of cohousing to Madison and the Dane County area. Three core groups formed immediately. One group kept going strong, 'The Village' Cohousing group. In 1997 the group began moving forward in earnest, working with Design Coalition architects to design the project, get city approvals, contract with housing consultants and builders, and begin building. More about Village Cohousing from www.DesignCoalition.org .....


"Arboretum Cohousing"

The Arboretum Cohousing group held their first get-together in early 2003. Soon after, the group began planning in earnest. As the design architects, our colleagues at Design Coalition Architects brought cohousing planning and design expertise to the table for these early stages of the process. They developed the concept through several iterations, and helped the group successfully navigate the months-long City approval process. More about Arboretum Cohousing from www.DesignCoalition.org .....

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