By Jerry McIntire
You may know co-op houses from your student days. Usually consisting of a large house withindividual rooms and shared bathrooms, kitchens, and other living facilities, they’re a great way to keep costs down and live cooperatively with like-minded people. Cohousing is a different animal, a grown-up version with private homes as well as cooperatively designed common facilities—like a large dining room and kitchen, play spaces for children, guest rooms, offices, workshops, etc. Cooperatively chosen, “green” design characterizes the buildings at the more than 140 successful cohousing communities in the United States today. Cooperative decision-making in the design and day-to-day operations of the community is another hallmark. A number of these cohousing communities are legally organized as cooperatives. Others are home owners associations, but all include shared ownership of common facilities and land, with the management responsibilities belonging to every member of the community.