FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT COHOUSING How is Cohousing different from a co-op? In Canada, most housing co-ops are part of a government sponsered affordable housing program. Residents pay a share to live there and their rent is determined by their income. When a resident leaves a co-op, no equity has been built up. Although residents of a co-op share duties, most co-ops do not have an intentional neighbourhood design or commitment to regular community activities. Many persons live in co-ops because they are affordable, not because they want a collaborative lifestyle. In cohousing, residents usually own their own units, the units are designed to encourage community interaction, there are extensive common facilities and residents are committed to having a vibrant community life. How does resale work? Most cohousing is built with a regular fee simple strata title ownership type. When a resident desires to sell, it is no different than selling a normal townhouse or conominium. The unit goes on the market and anyone who wishes can purchase it? Is there a screening process? Most cohousing does not have a screening process for new residents. They believe that potential residents will self-select themselves. This means it is the potential residents who decide if they like the community and what it stands for. Cohousers have found out that putting restrictions on who can join lowers their property value, makes banks unhappy and is no guarentee that prospective residents are compatible. What if I dont like someone in the group? It is not essential for everyone in cohousing to like each other. In fact, a variety of personalities adds interest to community. Cohousing residents need only share a goal of making their lives more efficient and anjoyable through cooperating with their neighbours. Since cohousing offers more opportunities for interaction with neighbours, residents learn to develop their conflict resolution and mediation skills. Does everyone have to eat in the common dining room? Common meals are optional. Residents decide if and when they want to participate. Every cohousing community has a different way of organizing tis meals. At Cardiff Place in Victoria, there are 3 common meals per week and residents rotate in the preparation of the meal. About 2/3s of the residents participate in any given meal. How is cohousing managed? The residents of the cohousing project manage their community themselves. Most cohousing communities have a variety of committees responsible for overseeing the various tasks. These may include food, gardening, maintenance, finance and administration. Residents volunteer for the committees as their interest and energies allow. How much participation is required? Cohousing communities generally do not have any mandatory participation requirements. Residents contribute when they are able. As with any group, some contribute more and some less but the overall contribution rate is higher. Resentments that may build up are usually talked through at community meetings. How are community decisions made? Most cohousing communities make decisions by consensus for all major community issues. This means that every member of the community must go along with the decision. In effect, every member has a veto. The result is that residents work very hard at coming up with solutions that are acceptable to all. Most communities have a fall back position where a large majority (75%) vote can be used if there is a stalemate. The Cardiff Place cohousing has never had to resort to a vote. What is the size range of a cohousing community? Cohousing communities are generally most effective when they have between 15 and 35 units which works out to between 30 and 85 residents. If the community is too small there are not enough financial and other resources to provide adequate community facilities. If the community is too large, it becomes impersonal and the feeling of neighbourliness is lost.