Cohousing community forming in Mountain View

October 27, 2009 7:22:56 AM PDT
With an aging generation of baby boomers, the future of enjoyable and affordable senior housing may center on sharing, it's part of a growing trend called cohousing.

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There is a plan for a plot of land in downtown Mountain View -- just imagine it turning into a neighborhood you help design. Now the search is on for some willing new residents.

"What we're looking for is people who are interested, first and foremost, in forming a community, being socially connected, enjoy each other's company," said Mountain View cohousing member Susan Burwen.

Retired doctor Susan Burwen and her husband David are founding members of the Mountain View Cohousing Community, which recently purchased land on Calderon Avenue. As empty-nesters, they're working to build the first-ever senior cohousing in the Bay Area -- and this will be no old-person's home.

"In a retirement community things are done for you and to you, in a cohousing community, things are done by you," said Susan Burwen.

Cohousing is a concept pioneered in Denmark, but it's grown over the past couple decades in the U.S., with the help of renowned California architect Charles Durrett.

He's designed some 50 such collaborative developments in North America and is now onboard designing the one in Mountain View.

"This is the type of neighborhood that used to occur naturally. These days we actually have to together go buy a property and develop it ourselves. Cohousing is when a group families get together and decide, you know, let's get together and make a neighborhood that makes sense for us," said Durrett.

Just like at the Swan's Market Cohousing in Oakland, a multi-generational development where residents own private homes, but share the rest of the land, and a common house where group meals and other social activities happen. The concept is the same for the Mountain View location, but it specifically aims at seniors, helping them stay active and live independently.

"When I walk into a senior cohousing community I'm always astounded. It's like, I haven't seen people have that much fun since the college dorms," said Durrett.

Cohousing encourages a healthier mindset through social activities, and can be cost-effective, for example, by sharing caregivers as residents' age.

"In the common house, we plan to design a small apartment for a future caregiver, and that way if some of us need caregivers, we can share that resource," said Susan Burwen.

With an aging generation of 79 million baby boomers, this is certainly one viable solution for living the golden years in a more sustainable, supportive community.

LINK:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mountainviewcohousing/

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