In response to Scott Writer’s letter to the editor (“We need a new breed of empty-nester housing,” Aspen Daily News, March 6), the new breed of empty-nester housing is called “cohousing.” Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett brought the term cohousing to this country in the ’80s after discovering the concept in Denmark.
Cohousing is a community comprised of reasonably sized residences — with bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, dining and living rooms — that share a common building, not unlike a clubhouse. By sharing a common building, which the residents design, they are able to reduce the size of their privately owned homes and create a common gathering area around which the homes are clustered. The common house usually contains a dining hall and kitchen where the community residence share evening meals five to seven nights a week and socialize with evening movies and other events. Residents also usually include craft rooms, libraries and three to four suites for visiting guests, eliminating the need of extra rooms within the individual units. The suites are also available for professionals providing assistance to older residents.
There are over 200 successful complexes in the United States and a half a dozen or more in Colorado’s Front Range area. There currently is a group of Roaring Fork Valley residents that have been meeting for over six months and are in search of a piece of land within Carbondale or the surrounding community on which to design and build such a community.
Cohousing is about living and enjoying life among new and old friends in a mutually supportive and productive neighborhood that has a low impact on the environment. It’s easy, convenient and cost effect to live in such vibrant communities. Cohousing offers privacy and encourages social interaction and support for a healthy and meaningful life.
As pointed out in Scott Writer’s recent letter, our baby boomer population — that has contributed so much to the valley and wants to remain here as contributing residents — need down-sized, functional and supportive housing. If you know of a situation that will work as a cohousing community, please let us know.