Just 10 blocks north of campus, Linda Albright shares her yard
with 33 other homes.
“I call it condos with an attitude,” said Albright, a resident
at River Rock Commons, a co-housing community.
The co-housing unit was developed about five years ago, when a
group of individuals met with developers to design a co-housing
unit. Although most of the founders are no longer living at River
Rock Commons, families continue to occupy the units.
River Rock Commons is made up of 34 units sitting on three acres
of land. The individual homes face one another and have a large
mutual yard as well as a common house.
The common house is made up of a deck, kids room, professional
kitchen and dining room. Meal clubs meet there on a weekly basis to
share the responsibility of cooking and cleaning dinner and to eat
as a group in the dining room.
Albright said a variety of people come to the commons, and no
one is forced to participate in the community events.
“I think for most people it was a desire to be closer to your
neighbors,” Albright said. “We like to think we look out for one
The commons may not be a favorable location for an introvert,
according to Albright.
“It has to be someone who wants to be more closely associated
with your neighbors,” she said. “We’re probably not as middle of
the road as other people.”
The community may present opportunities for the residents that
are not as easily accessible to the average neighborhood residents,
according to Laura Macagno-Shang, senior staff counselor for the
University Counseling Center.
“In a lot of neighborhoods, the opportunity to have anything to
do with your neighbors is very limited,” Macagno-Shang said. “The
houses are set up to prevent that.”
Although the co-housing model may be an experiment in the United
States, the model is the norm in other countries.
“This has been the practice of most cultures for hundreds of
years,” Macagno-Shang said. “There are all sorts of experiments on
how we live.”
There may be a number of benefits to living in a co-housing
unit, including less stress due to shared responsibilities, more
time for children and the opportunity for well-developed skills in
communicating with people of different ages, Macagno-Shang
“It’s an interesting model that allows people to have more human
relationships,” she said. “In this model, perhaps there would be
more people who had more time for the kids.”
Macagno-Shang also said that while the model would likely be
beneficial for children, there is potential for problems.
“I think the potential for conflict is there,” she said. “People
have to accommodate a little bit.”
Carole Makela, a consumer and family studies professor, said
having multiple role models would not likely confuse a child, but
may even be beneficial.
“In many cases it’s probably more positive,” Makela said. “Most
kids don’t have enough role models.”
Makela said problems might arise if co-housing is not what
someone expected it to be.
“We go into experience(s) with expectations, but because of the
dynamics and mix of people, sometimes it turns out that way and
sometimes it doesn’t,” Makela said.
The living arrangement may advocate sharing and cooperation,
while encouraging relationships similar to those that may be
difficult for those who live in an average community, Makela
“I think co-housing serves an important purpose recognizing that
a portion of the population does not live near extended family,”