Model a community-based solution that’s a win win for everyone: Gord Tulloch
Michelle Strutzenberger


Co-housing could be the future of the community living movement, says one of posAbilities’ program directors, Gord Tulloch.

He notes co-housing addresses several major problems at once, including social fragmentation and isolation in urban life, cost prohibitions to purchasing shelter in B.C. Lower Mainland and service sustainability.

“If done thoughtfully, I think there are ways to develop, structure and imagine these communities such that the accent on system support decreases and the accent on reciprocal neighbourly care increases. It’s a win-win for everyone,” says Gord.

Cam Doré is co-executive director of the Fraser Valley-based HOME Society, which seeks to welcome men and women who have a disability in the community through a philosophy called “gentle teaching.”

Cam has lived at Windsong, a Langley co-housing, for 10 years, and has seen first-hand the way that intentional community reduces the need for system support.

He tells a story of one young woman living at Windsong who is now receiving support from her co-housing partners, rather than having outside life-skills workers come in.

Not only is she with people she’s otherwise familiar with, their schedules can typically accommodate her life better. There is also a variety of people involved.

“It’s a good example of the strength of co-housing versus professional supports,” says Cam.

Cam has also visited several co-housings in California and Washington State where he saw people who have a disability active in these communities. One included a coffee club every morning which fostered a lot of engagement.

He recalls seeing the gifts of different people shining in their interactions in these communities.

“One of them, a larger, taller man, seemed to be quite helpful to other members of the community, and a woman was noted for her social skills, always knowing everybody’s names and details about their families,” he says.

A number of locations in California have seen families buy into co-housing for their family-members who have a disability and they also seem to be doing well.

Asked about roots of co-housing success for anyone, based on his experiences and observations, Cam says getting involved from the beginning, including designing the co-housing is important. Groups looking into co-housing will decide for themselves the layout of the housing in general, the features of the common house and then what will be done with each of the individual units.

Gord notes posAbilities has had affordable and accessible housing on it strategic agenda for some time, but co-housing offers a community-based solution to these challenges.

“It’s just a matter of applying the time and resources to develop something in the midst of so much busyness,” he says.

— More to Come

Click this link to read a recent article on opportunities in co-housing for Vancouver.

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