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Aging in Place: OR Joins National Cohousing Trend

January 18, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. - For Oregonians over age 55, cohousing might be just the answer to living independently but having the support of neighbors and friends.

A Portland development is one of five in the country to receive awards from the National Association of Home Builders and AARP, as good living options for people as they age. Daybreak Cohousing, 2525 N. Killingsworth St., is credited as being on the cutting edge of a trend toward smaller homes, and neighbors who share common spaces if they wish, like big dining areas, gardens and workshops.

Some cohousing developments are designed only for seniors, but others are open to all ages. Daybreak's architect, Grace Kim of Seattle, believes people over age 55 will make or break the cohousing trend.

"The boomers are here, and they're very proactive about taking care of themselves. And I think cohousing will be something that is very attractive to them for a lot different reasons - about self-destiny, about being able to develop themselves, about gathering their friends around them - so that they know how they're going to be supported in their later years."

Kim says cohousing is a way to have privacy but also be part of a community that is committed to getting along and being good neighbors. Daybreak's residents have come from as far away as Ohio, Illinois and Arizona to be part of the cohousing trend.

Jerry Cohen, state director of AARP Oregon, says safety is a big concern as people age and want to remain in their own homes – but so is the desire to stay connected with their community. Cohousing can provide both.

"They thought ahead in terms of how to design and lay out a home - I mean, not just in terms of stairs, but of true accessibility. It also really provides an opportunity to stay engaged with neighbors, family and friends."

In Oregon, there are also cohousing communities underway in Corvallis and Eugene. The Cohousing Association of the United States offers information about existing developments, or starting your own. It is online at

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR