(This story first appeared in the October issue of the Anglican Journal.)
An Ottawa architect is planning a new kind of residence for seniors-an intentional community, to be built on redeveloped church property.
Rosaline Hill, a member of St. Alban’s Anglican Church, hopes to build a residence containing 20-30 units in the nation’s capital, according to Crosstalk, the newspaper of the diocese of Ottawa. The development would be based on the idea of “co-housing”-the formation of communities organized by a group of like- minded people.
Co-housing has become increasingly popular in recent years in Europe, the U.S. and Canada. Communities have been formed by groups of friends, for example, or people drawn together by environmental concerns or faith.
Co-housing for seniors, in particular, has been growing in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, spurred partly by research showing that loneliness and isolation have done harm to seniors’ mental and physical health. Research in the U.S. has shown that living in intentional communities has helped seniors make social connections and sup- port systems.
The sharing of common resources such as cars and care providers also allows seniors to bring down the cost of getting older, said the Crosstalk article.
“Family arrangements, too, have changed and many seniors don’t want to depend on their children for care, or they have no children,” it added.
It’s hoped that the Christian co-housing project would allow the seniors to share their life experience and skills through ministry for the church.
“Christian co-housing is for seniors who want to be directly involved in designing a development that aligns with their goals for living in an intentional community,” according to information on the Ottawa builder’s website.
A co-housing condominium, for instance, could share a location with an existing church, where seniors could work as volunteers or part-time workers assisting with a daycare, or a program for foster children or with Christian arts organizations.
The project hopes to attract residents from different denominations, but they are expected to commit to “New Testament values,” such as caring for one another.
Information sessions on the Ottawa project, which bills itself as the largest of its kind in central and eastern Canada, are slated to take place in the city this fall. The design and build phases of the project are expected to take up the next three to four years.