Co-Housing Communities For Seniors
The co-housing community of Cantine's Island is modeled on a Danish concept
Photographs courtesy of Cantine's Island
On the inner bend of a great swoop of the Esopus Creek, just a quarter mile from the Hudson, sits Cantine’s Island, a co-housing community in which households share a dozen acres of common land.
Co-housing is originally a Danish model that has no spiritual underpinnings. A plot of land is developed and configured as a village, wherein all the stakeholders retain ownership of their home and yard while sharing the price, upkeep, and spoils of the common grounds. Cantine’s Island now counts 18 houses, up from a dozen when construction began in 1997, built closely together in an effort to conserve green space.
The upkeep of the land is done communally; resources like lawn mowers, snowblowers, and kayaks are shared or easily borrowed. “There’s a lot of watching out for each other, walking each other’s dogs, watching each other’s kids,” says Mike Compain, one of the residents.
Residents of the 18 houses in the development share upkeep and other responsibilities, such as tending to the garden (left); the site overlooks the Esopus Creek (right)
Four of the households have residents in their 70s. “There’s intergenerational interaction, a lot of surrogate grandparents and aunts and uncles,” says Compain. “We’re more than just neighbors. People chip in and help out with meals for people who are facing medical challenges or who can’t tend to their yards. In return they can help with watching kids, etc. It’s kind of a quid pro quo.”
Although unconventional, co-housing can suit some seniors’ needs. There are an estimated 120 active co-housing communities in the U.S., with many more being planned. The Netherlands counts 231 co-housing communities comprised only of seniors.