Who are we?
Levitt Cohousing works with developers and groups looking to create Senior Cohousing in Southern California. Levitt Coho also provides informational sessions on Cohousing and workshops to learn more about aging and thriving in our communities.
Our role is to serve as a liaison between Cohousing communities and developers in order to facilitate the successful completion of Senior Cohousing Communities in Southern California.
Guide Cohousing groups to work efficiently
Facilitate between developer and Cohousing group
Find site in challenging So Cal market which would be appropriate for cohousing
Guide community through group process, meetings, & facilitation
Foresee issues before they become problems
Who created Levitt Coho?
Alexandria Levitt is a gerontologist, specializing in Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships around Senior Cohousing. She wants to develop housing for people that doesn’t just show off a “lifestyle” imagined by corporate developers but one that reinforces the qualities that help us most as we get older – friendship, community and purpose, as initially created in Denmark.
As a gerontologist (USC, MS, 2011), Alexandria is very familiar with the many challenges facing us as we get older and the remarkable connection between health (both mental and physical) and social engagement. Alexandria leads workshops on "Aging & Thriving with Cohousing" and informational presentations on Senior Cohousing in the area. Her goal is to move the needle in the direction of cost effective, appealing, environmentally-friendly housing that can be home for all active, engaged adults.
Alexandria is a member of the Senior Citizen Commision of South Pasadena, California and President of the nonprofit SAGE Senior Cohousing Advocates.
What is Cohousing?
Originally created in Denmark, Cohousing is a intentional community of private homes whose owners cooperatively own and use outdoor spaces around the homes, and commonly owned indoor spaces.
Cohousing members manage their communities together, and actively come together to learn, support each other, and enjoy life.
The following six basic principles have been used to define what makes cohousing different from other types of collaborative living.
1. Participatory process.
Future residents participate in the design of the community so that it meets their needs. Some cohousing communities are initiated or driven by a developer. A well-designed, pedestrian-oriented community without significant resident participation in the planning may be “cohousing-inspired,” but it is not a cohousing community.
2. Neighborhood design.
The physical layout and orientation of the buildings (the site plan) encourage a sense of community and social interactions. For example, the private residences are clustered on the site, leaving more shared open space. The goal: create a strong sense of community using physical design choices.
3. Common facilities.
Common facilities are designed for daily use, are an integral part of the community, and are always supplemental to the private residences. Participating in the community is always optional, not required. Since the buildings are clustered, larger sites may retain several or many acres of undeveloped shared open space.
4. Resident management.
Residents manage their own cohousing communities, and also perform much of the work required to maintain the property. They participate in the preparation of common meals, and meet regularly to solve problems and develop policies for the community.
5. Non-hierarchical structure and decision-making.
Leadership roles naturally exist in cohousing communities, however no one person (or persons) has authority over others. Most groups start with one or two “burning souls.” As people join the group, each person takes on one or more roles consistent with his or her skills, abilities or interests. Most cohousing groups make all of their decisions by consensus or similar forms of consent decision-making (e.g. sociocracy) , and, although many groups have a policy for voting if the group cannot reach consensus after a number of attempts, it is rarely or never necessary to resort to voting.
6. No shared community economy.
The community is not a source of income for its members. Occasionally, a cohousing community will pay one of its residents to do a specific (usually time-limited) task, but more typically the work will be considered that member’s contribution to the shared responsibilities.
What is Senior Cohousing?
Senior Cohousing functions exactly the same way as intergenerational cohousing except that the residents are 50 years and older. The advantage this creates for the residents is that all activities, architecture, governance, amenities etc. are focused on an older, partially retired community. So maybe instead of a play structure, they want a hot tub. Or an art studio instead of a reading room for small children. You get the idea.
Also, in an intergenerational community, many residents may work and be gone during the daytime hours of the week. With an older orientation, there are more people around to go out for a cup of coffee with, hike or work on a project.
The principle behind cohousing regardless of age is the recognition that most people would prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible---and studies show people are happier and feel better at home. At the same time, most people feel better when they are connected to others. Cohousing provides the best of both worlds.
Senior cohousing has proven to be an innovative and cost effective model that illustrates how living in a highly functional community improves health, reduces the need for senior services, enhances individual contributions on a larger scale, and makes life more affordable and fun. These seniors are consciously aware of their environmental foot print and strive to live sustainably light on the earth.