Starting from the premise that our single-household orientation–single family, single parent, single person–is not an ideal model for our most vulnerable populations, New Community Vision is promoting alternative housing arrangements such as cooperatives, cohousing, home sharing and even dormitory housing as viable options for consideration.
Plan to Crack our Housing Crisis describes this more fully. This is a modern update on the way communities and extended families used to live.
The four elements that must be in place to successfully share a living space include:
1. members must be compatible and have the right chemistry;
2. there must be a commitment to make it work;
3. there must be enough space for privacy and a degree of autonomy;
4. each adult must be on equal footing, either all renters or all owners.
Facilitating monthly housing mixers (without the teenage hormonal anxiety), at which people learn about alternative housing arrangements and meet others who are interested in a wider variety of housing options is one way to make headway on our housing challenges. At the regular housing mixers, affinity groups will naturally form. The Tea Partiers will find each other, as will the NPR aficionados, and many groups in between.
As people find others with whom they may be interested in forming a community, trained housing coaches will be available to facilitate the process.
Social workers, who have taken training as housing coaches, will be available as a resource to screen, evaluate, match and coach people who are interested in exploring shared living arrangements. HUD-approved housing counselors are concerned with the responsibility of home ownership and financial readiness for it. Housing coaching is much broader and addresses the social dynamic of sharing living spaces. In successful living environments, people feel safe and comforted. In stable, nurturing environments, they thrive.
Screening is both necessary and appropriate to provide a measure of assurance when considering sharing living quarters. Evaluating and matching for compatibility is another safeguard. Coaching in the skill of living with others increases the odds of successfully living in a joyful environment. Even existing households could benefit from coaching.
Another key element is the availability of housing stock. Homeowners struggling to meet mortgage payments, or banks with a portfolio of foreclosed homes, would welcome the idea of renting or selling a house, or housing portfolio, to a reliable community. Cooperatives offer the sturdiest economic foundation, and potentially the most resilient social structure for housing.
An umbrella co-operative purchasing individual homes and apartment buildings,would be a sturdy foundation and could purchase and oversee many individual homes or apartment buildings. Chicago area co-ops, Stone Soup and Qumbaya on the south side, each own and operate three buildings as cooperatives. Similarly, clusters of homes would be branches of a larger cooperative.
These links provide an overview of the approach to the housing crisis that makes logical sense.
- Families & Housing
- House Sharing Promise or Peril?
- Steps to Insure Successful House Sharing
- 11 Reasons Why House Sharing Works
If this interests you, or if you are a social worker interested in becoming a housing coach, I would be delighted to hear from you.