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Rochester group explores cohousing


A volunteer group is working to create a co-housing development — a multigenerational community located on one to two acres within the City of Rochester limits.

Co-housing is essentially a planned community where residents have their own homes or apartments, but there are shared spaces, too, including a common house for residents to eat together or to hold gatherings.

The communities often have a courtyard that's jointly owned by the residents. And residents often share tools, art supplies, musical instruments, and recreation equipment, and participate in joint activities.

Residents sometimes share vehicles, too, says Jane Ellen Bleeg, coordinator of the Flower City Cohousing Community.

"There's just a whole bunch of benefits that are really attractive both to younger people and older people," she says. "So many people are away from their own extended families, and this kind of creates another kind of extended family for people."

A cohousing community might be well suited for single parents, Bleeg says, because they'd have a built-in support system.

The Flower City community would consist of 20 units with houses, duplexes, and a three-story building that would have six apartments and the common house. Bleeg says that there may be some affordable units, too.

"The big piece of it is being part of a caring community," Bleeg says. "We've just heard some amazing stories."

She says she learned how one community came together to care for a dying resident in her last days.

"The community just kind of surrounded her with love and food and care," Bleeg says. "Certainly, they needed to bring in outside assistance, as well. But instead of going into a nursing home or instead of going into a hospital, she was able to die at home — the way she wanted to."

There are more than 220 cohousing communities in 36 states, according to the Cohousing Association of the United States.

The Flower City Cohousing Community will hold a public information session from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, at Asbury United Methodist Church, 1050 East Avenue.

The event's speaker is Liz Walker, co-founder of three cohousing communities in Ithaca. Walker's presentation will be followed by a panel with the Flower City group.

The event is free, but registration is encouraged. Call Jane Bleeg at (585) 315-2406, or e-mail, You can also register at

Bleeg says that Flower City Cohousing has looked at several potential sites in Rochester and is committed to building the community in the city.

The Flower City community's structure, including how it would be run, will be decided by the participants, Bleeg says, although some cohousing developments are run as co-ops.

The goal is for participants to move into the Flower City community by the end of 2017, Bleeg says.

Flower City has a graduated membership process. You can participate free for three months and then if you're still not sure you want to join permanently, you can become an associate member for a $250 fee. After that point, you could move up to become a full equity participant, where the fee varies.