Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Cohousing?
Great question! We have an entire page dedicated to answering that question here!
Is this like a commune?
Not at all! Whereas in a commune, the members share all property and resources, in cohousing, each household owns their own unit or house. Think of it like a condominium with shared spaces and greater community interaction and involvement. You can modify your own property as you like and sell your unit or house. The purchasing household must join the community, agree with the basic principles and participate.
What are the benefits of cohousing?
We live in a society in which we may be acquainted and friendly with our neighbors, but rarely interact with them beyond exchanging greetings. The result is a society in which individuals and family units are often socially isolated and lacking a sense of community. In co-housing, shared spaces, shared meal times, and social gatherings increase a sense of inter-connectedness among residents. Diverse residents interact (seniors and children, members from different backgrounds and ethnic backgrounds) in a vibrant social environment that promotes a sense of belonging. Shared resources reduces costs to each household (think of only needing one lawnmower for the entire community or less clutter with kids sharing toys with other kids), and shared cooking responsibilities frees up time, up to several days each week, for each household.
What are the challenges of cohousing?
Similar participating in any community, a cohousing arrangement requires members to adapt, accommodate, and compromise with other members for the good of the community. The community uses consensus decision-making that takes time, especially as members disagree. Adult household members should expect to contribute 8 to 10 hours of work per month preparing meals, doing building maintenance and other important activities that maintain the building, grounds and the shared needs of member households.
Building Design and Construction
What is the timeline for building the community?
Oak Park Commons Cohousing expects to close on the purchase of a site at the intersection of Madison and Carpenter Streets by August 31st, 2022. If we can obtain construction financing as we obtain Oak Park Village approval we may begin construction in November 2022. This puts us on schedule for a Spring 2024 completion. See timeline
What will the building look like and what features will it have?
While the site selection and architectural design process has not concluded, the building aims to fulfill the following principles:
I. The physical design of shared common spaces (e.g., mail room, fireplace, dining area) will foster social interaction among residents.
Preparing and sharing meals on a regular basis in a common dining area (voluntary, periodic)
Coordinating social interaction, barter and labor exchange for services among residents
Common space will include space for gardening, child play and guest rooms
II. Pursue a building design, development strategy and organizational structure that enables moderate, middle and upper income households to become members.
Members may pay less for smaller dwelling units with fewer amenities and more for larger units
Institutional relations with Village agencies secures rent subsidy for select units & households
III. The building will be developed on a location near public transportation and pedestrian accessible shops and services.
IV. Promote and adopt energy conservation practices in the physical construction, maintenance and use of the building and facilities.
Where will the building be located?
The building will be located at the corner of Madison Street and Carpenter Avenue in Oak Park. As of August 2023, we own the site! It's a great neighborhood, close to transit and on a bike lane, with lots of stores, cafes, and other shops within walking distance.
How much will units cost in the community?
Prices vary based on unit size and floor location. Pre-construction pricing is in effect until January, 2023. Please contact us for up-to-date prices and unit availability.
Why are the housing costs for cohousing units greater than for similar size units in older existing buildings?
There are several reasons why new construction costs more than existing units: New construction meets stricter codes. Current construction costs are higher than what it cost to build a unit 50 or a 100 years ago. Amenities and finishing for new units are more extensive and better quality compared to existing homes. Lastly, our commitment to shared common areas increases unit prices as each unit absorbs a portion of common area cost.
What can we do to reduce housing costs?
The more equity funds we collectively invest at the beginning of the project to fund development and construction, the more interest savings we can realize reducing overall financing cost. We are using materials and systems designed to reduce carbon emissions and utility costs.
Individually we may choose less expensive finishes for our unit than otherwise available. Prices also vary with respect to location in the building. Units less well placed are priced lower than those in prime locations.
What will be the ownership structure?
Oak Park Commons Cohousing will be structured as a condominium. Each unit will be individually owned, with the common areas jointly owned and collectively managed by the Oak Park Commons Cohousing owners’ association. Members may modify their own units as they would any privately owned condominium unit and may sell their unit. Buyers must agree to join the community, agree with the principles and participate in social activity and the work of managing the building.
What is the process for becoming an associate member?
Prospective members should attend a general meeting held at the Oak Park Public Library or online, when scheduled. Upon deciding to join the group a household commits to the principles and makes a one-time $100 payment to Oak Park Commons Cohousing. The funds are utilized for maintaining the website, paying for advertising, and other necessary organizational expenses.
How are decisions made and disputes adjudicated within the community?
The equity member households are the primary decision-makers regarding the community at this time. Equity members are associate members who invest at least 10 percent of the estimated price of the unit they expect to purchase in the Oak Park Commons Cohousing LLC. Some members invest more. These funds are used to purchase the land and to construct the building.