Finding a 'sense of community’: Co-housing unit coming to Richmond

Finding a 'sense of community’: Co-housing unit coming to Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A non-traditional form of housing is popping up in Richmond.

Co-housing means families buy smaller individual units and share a larger common space within the building with their neighbors. Parents who have opted in say there could be some perks for their kids.

At 901 Porter St., there’s an empty lot. By spring, construction should be underway on a Richmond Cohousing unit.

The Manchester neighborhood building will have 19 single-level one-, two- and three-bedroom units on four floors. It will also have a large common space on the first floor for cooking and dining together, a dedicated kids room, and a rooftop deck for outdoor play, socials, conversations, and container gardening.

“We’d traveled around a lot and I had never found that really intense sense of community,” said Meg Lassard, a future co-housing owner.

That is until they found the co-housing project in Richmond that seems to meet that need.

“On the first floor we will have a large common area, a dining room, and kitchen," Lassard explained. “So that we can, if people want, can have shared meals about three times a week. It’s intentionally designed to facilitate social interactions with your neighbors. Both in how it’s designed and how it’s built because the common space is both easy to use and be a part of.”

For parents involved in the project, there is a big appeal to living this way.

“I have a 6-year-old and I’m a single parent, so that was something that appealed to me about having other adults around," said L. Hardy, another future co-housing owner. "People who cared about my son and who were interested in being involved in his life.”

Also, the nearly 20 families sometimes have duplicates of the same thing. For example, each family isn’t going to need a hammer or a ladder or even a paintbrush. Instead, they’ll have kind of a library system where they can check out what they need and then put it back.

That's less "stuff" to store in your already crowded house.

Plus, you know that nostalgic idea that kids can run all over the neighborhood all day and still be safe? They hope they’re building that within these walls, too.

“They can almost have free run of a building and have a little more of that creative autonomous play than maybe I could have in my own home," said Lassard.

Each family will have it’s own private space as well, because that time is important, too.

The group of neighbors will not share income, though they will clearly have to pay home owner’s associations for the common space and work together on some ideas that influence the common spaces.

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