FAQs about Our Home – Cathedral Park

 

We’ve just experienced a global pandemic. Is this a good time for living in a community?

There is no better time for living in community. From other cohousers, we are hearing countless stories about the ways a simple interaction with a neighbor can bring a person out of the feeling of isolation to experience being part of a larger community. Whether it’s leaving jars of sourdough starter on someone’s doorstep or simply waving while getting the mail, little interactions (from a safe distance) with our neighbors have kept us going these past few months.

Opportunities to interact with and take care of each other are prevalent and easy to access in cohousing communities, both because of the pre-existing relationships between people, and the way cohousing communities are constructed. We are hearing stories of people singing and story-telling across courtyards, sharing grocery runs, virtual movie and book group nights, and simply keeping an eye on each other. This time of social distancing has been a surreal and lonely period for many. Imagine the joy of being able to chat with neighbors from across a courtyard, and the comfort of knowing, even if you live alone, that someone will notice if you are not well, and will be in a position to help you find the care you need. Socially distancing safely, with each family keeping to their personal units, cohousers are able to be safe without being isolated. That sounds pretty important right now.

 

What is Cathedral Park?

Cathedral Park is both a thriving neighborhood and a park, located near the vibrant St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Home to the iconic St. Johns Bridge and a diverse business community of independent shops, restaurants, pubs, and theaters, this area of North Portland is a short trip by car, mass transit, or bicycle from downtown Portland. The Cathedral Park neighborhood is just minutes away from the outdoor wonderland of Forest Park, and the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. For more about the St. Johns neighborhood, check out the Exploring St. Johns page at Love Portland.

For more information about Portland, read pretty much any pre-Covid issue of the New York Times or watch Portlandia — seriously. Portland has been featured in both the national and international press for its livability, its restaurant scene, its music scene, its outdoor recreation opportunities, and a host of other things. It’s an amazing place to live, and still one of the most affordable medium-sized cities on the West Coast.

 

What is Cohousing?

Cohousing, imported to the United States and Canada from Denmark, refers to an intentional community of private homes and shared spaces where neighbors come together to know, care about, and support each other, to laugh and enjoy life together. There are nearly 200 cohousing communities in the US—a large number of which are in Oregon—and 150 communities are in the formation stages. Cohousing communities can take many forms, but they all come together based on shared and stated values and principles, collaborate on managing community business and activities, and usually share some regularly scheduled meals. For more details, see cohousing.org’s description.

 

What makes Our Home – Cathedral Park stand out from other cohousing communities?

Our Home – Cathedral Park differs from many other cohousing communities because it is intentionally inclusive and diverse. Our Home – Cathedral Park will be made up of neighbors of a wide variety of ages, abilities, and income levels—and from many walks of life. The concept that led to the creation of Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative, and the development of Our Home – Cathedral Park, is that communities should be as naturally diverse as our society as a whole. Including ALL is only radical when viewed through the lens of monoculture, and from the unfortunate perspective that segregating the elderly and people who experience disability from the remainder of society is right or natural. In truth, the richest communities are multi-generational, neurodiverse, and reflect a broad spectrum of income levels. We believe that building a community on this foundation of inclusion and diversity will yield a beautiful and supportive place to live for every neighbor.

 

What makes Our Home – Cathedral Park inclusive and diverse?

A clear set of values and agreed upon intention is what makes Our Home – Cathedral Park inclusive and diverse. OHCP was envisioned with diversity and inclusivity in mind from the very start. OHCP is designed to mirror the makeup of our larger society, with neighbors living together in a community that reflects the diversity of ages, income levels, and abilities present in our larger society, but often left out of other cohousing communities or housing developments. OHCP will also have several units deed-restricted to keep these units affordable in perpetuity.

 

Is Our Home – Cathedral Park only for people who experience disability, are older, or are below median income?

Nope. OHCP is for anyone that is looking for the strength of community. Twenty to twenty-five percent of our homeowners will experience disability or have a family member who experiences disability (we chose that percentage because it is the naturally occurring rate of disability in our community at large). Our goal is for six of our units to be available to buyers that income-qualify at between 50-100% of median family income. Our one-story, Universally-Designed units and accessible common spaces support people who have limited mobility or who want to age in a home of their choice. This community is for all of us—it’s Our Home.

 

Is this a care facility?

Our Home – Cathedral Park is a diverse and inclusive community of neighbors. Many owners may have supports that help them live independently in community, but OHCP does not provide services. We do not offer skilled nursing care, medical or behavioral support, or memory care. We offer a community of neighbors who naturally support each other, some of whom have additional supports of their own that help them live in a diverse and inclusive community.

 

Will I need to take care of our community members who experience disability or community members as they age?

No. We do not offer skilled nursing care, disability supports, medical support, or memory care. We are not a disability service provider, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), nor a retirement home or convalescent facility. We are a group people who have chosen to live in a tight-knit community of caring, helpful friends. We believe this will provide rich lives of reciprocity, purpose, friendships and fun, and enable many of us to stay in our homes and community longer than if we lived in isolation.

 

How will the community make sure that the percentage of people who experience disability won’t rise above or dip below 20–25%?

Our Home – Cathedral Park was envisioned to break the current housing model for people who experience disability in the US. The expression “Homes! Not Housing!” is one of the guiding principles of Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative. OHCP was intentionally designed to mirror the general percentage of people living with intellectual and physical disability in the United States. With inclusivity at the heart of our guiding principles and values, we are committed to maintaining this percentage, and we will work with our nonprofit partners Community Vision and Our Home, ICC to maintain yet not exceed it.

 

Are children allowed?

Children are a natural part of any diverse and inclusive community. We welcome families of all types and many sizes into Our Home – Cathedral Park both as neighbors and as visitors.

 

I’m a young able-bodied person, why would I want to live there?

If you’re looking for a community that mirrors the makeup of society as a whole, one that champions diversity and embraces people for their gifts and strengths first and foremost, if you want to see beyond the labels and limitations often assigned by society, and you want life-long connections and friendships with purpose and maybe even surprise, we’d love to talk to you. Our Home – Cathedral Park is located in a beautiful and lively section of Portland, with easy access to Forest Park, and it’s an easy trip to other parts of the city. OHCP is going to be a fantastic, dynamic community in a beautiful place. Our current group of future neighbors includes individuals and families from different backgrounds, and we’d love to talk to you more if you are intrigued about joining us.

 

What if I’m an introvert—will I have private time in cohousing?

​Very few of us feel like socializing all of the time. In cohousing, there’s no expectation to be social at any particular time. Cohousing offers the choice of enjoying the privacy of your own home, or joining in on whatever happens to be going on in the neighborhood. The shared common spaces allow for quiet reflection and chance meetings alike, depending on the time of day or scheduled events.

How much you socialize is up to you. Many cohousers in other places create their own signs or symbols to let their neighbors know if they would prefer not to talk at the moment. Of course, those of us who choose to live here do so because in general, we enjoy getting to know one another. Cohousing is actually very popular with introverts, because there’s no “work” required to socialize; it’s “built in” and happens naturally.

 

Do I own my own home?

Yes. Our Home – Cathedral Park is a community made up of neighbor-owners from all walks of life. Each has their own private home, and all have a stake in shared indoor and outdoor spaces.

 

Do I also own a share of the Our Home – Cathedral Park community spaces?

Along with all of the other neighbors in our community, you own an equal share of all of the indoor and outdoor common spaces of Our Home – Cathedral Park. This includes the dining room and meeting and multipurpose room, shared kitchen, small gathering areas, living room and library, shared laundry room, bike and storage room, courtyard, the roof deck, gardens, and all other common areas. You even own your own parking space, if you have one.

 

How many subsidized units are there?

Our goal is to have 6 permanently affordable units from 50-100% of median family income for buyers that qualify. For more information or to see if you would qualify, visit Proud Ground./

 

Will the subsidized units be permanently affordable?

Yes. Because of our commitment to inclusivity and diversity of income in our community, the subsidized units Our Home – Cathedral Park will remain permanently affordable. For more information on affordable housing in Portland visit Proud Ground.

 

How much does ownership cost?

Cohousing typically costs about the same as other types of condo developments, when prices are adjusted to include the share in the square footage of community areas that each neighbor purchases along with their private individual unit. Unit pricing (with common area shares built in) has not been finalized at this time, but our estimated range for our market-rate studio–2 bedroom units is approximately from $350K–$600K. Six units at OHCP will be subsidized for neighbors that meet income qualifications. For more information, or to see if you would qualify, visit Proud Ground. These units will be maintained by Proud Ground at affordable levels in perpetuity.

 

How big are the homes?

Our Home – Cathedral Park is made up of homes of various sizes. We have studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and the possibility for three-bedroom homes in the community. There is also a guest bedroom that is shared by all neighbors that can be used for visiting family and friends. While the homes that make up OHCP range in size from roughly 500 to 1,200 square feet, it is important to remember that all homes come with an equal undivided share of all common spaces.

 

What about HOA fees?

Our initial monthly dues have not been finalized at this time, but we are estimating that they will range from about $250 to $500 per month, depending on the size of the individual home. This includes some standard utilities, like water, garbage, recycling, and community wifi, as well as a monthly contribution to our reserve fund for larger projects and maintenance of the community areas. Other utilities, such as electricity, natural gas, in-home television, and Internet service are the responsibility of individual owners.

 

What is the financial structure to be a neighbor of OHCP?

There are many things that make Our Home – Cathedral Park unique and exciting, but our innovative financial structure is right up there with our community members, architectural design and partnerships.

Our Home – Cathedral Park has the incredible fortune of being able to springboard off the generous support of several nonprofit organizations. Community Vision, Inc. gave us a place we could build our home by initially purchasing and holding our land while our founders worked tirelessly to bring our community and funding together. The Kuni Foundation gave a stunning $1,000,000.00 in funding, which has been put in place as part of our ‘first in’ equity. These funds are the most difficult for cohousing communities to raise, as they are essential but most at risk during the early stages of the development.

Financial assistance has also come from Oregon Community FoundationMetro and many private family donation contributors, who work with our nonprofit sponsor, Our Home, Inclusive Community Collaborative, showing their belief in the value of our inclusive and diverse community by their generous financial gifts and support.

Please click on the Becoming an OHCP neighbor tab to learn more [LINK TO PATHWAY-TK?]

 

What about parking?

Our Home – Cathedral Park is located in a highly walkable location within easy reach of neighborhood amenities and close to mass transit, which will take you wherever you need to go throughout the city. For neighbors who plan to have their own vehicles, there will be several parking spaces available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis. Ample street parking adjacent to the community is also available.

 

What about safety and security?

​Because we will know all our neighbors, we’ll have an excellent neighborhood watch system built into our community, as someone who does not belong there will be very easily recognized. If your child falls off a swing while out of your line of sight, surely another adult will be there to pick them up. If you are ill and cannot make it to the store, your neighbors will be there to bring you a cup of soup. There will be more than one person to watch over the property of an absent resident. “All eyes on the common areas” means that even in an urban area, many cohousers will feel comfortable leaving their front doors unlocked when they go to the common house to pick up laundry, and won’t require that their community be accessible only through a locked gate.

 

Where can guests stay?

Our Home – Cathedral Park has one guest bedroom that can be reserved for neighbors’ visiting friends and family at a low cost.

 

Do I have to participate in community events or meals?

While participation in every community event or meal is not mandatory, we find that active participation in community events and meals helps to keep our community strong. We plan to have at least one group dinner each week and ask that neighbors help with meals on a rotating basis in a way that best suits their strengths and interests.

 

Is cohousing just a Portland thing?

Cohousing got its start in Denmark and has rapidly made its way to just about every continent. The Portland area is currently home to a significant distribution of cohousing communities and cohousing projects in various stages of development.

 

How would I know if I’d like to be a neighbor at Our Home – Cathedral Park?

If you think you might be interested in joining our fantastic little community, there are several ways you can dip a toe in the water before taking the plunge. Most comprehensively, join us for a Learn About Our Home – Cathedral Park Zoom session where you’ll learn more about our neighborhood, beautifully designed residences, community vision and values, price points, timeline and more. You can also contact Founding Neighbor Alicia DeLashmutt at alicia@ourhomeicc.org for an initial Q&A chat. Once we are able to gather together in groups again, we’ll hold a monthly Soup Sunday where we can all get together to share a meal and get to know each other. We are also available in the meantime for virtual coffee at a time that would be convenient for you.

 

Do you have a wait list, or a mailing list?

We are building a list of people interested in potentially becoming a part of Our Home – Cathedral Park. Joining our mailing list is the best way to stay informed about the ongoing development of OHCP; this is a great way to learn how you can get involved, get to know our neighbors, and become a part of this community. [LINK TO PATHWAY or MAILING LIST-TK?]

 

Are there advantages to joining right away?

Yes there are! You will:

  • Become part of, and help shape, the culture of our community.
  • Establish your seniority for unit selection. The date of membership determines the order of unit selection, so earlier neighbors have the most choices.
  • Have a voice in deciding how we will live as neighbors (pet policy, common amenities chosen, landscape design, common area design, etc.).
  • Have access to potential Early Member Discounts.

 

But wait, what happens if I need to leave OHCP before it is complete?

If circumstances present themselves where you choose to leave OHCP before completion and choose not to purchase a unit at OCHP, your Explorer Fee(s) and Equity Membership Fee will be forfeited to the general funds of the project. . Funds currently invested in PCLC will remain in the LLC until the last unit sale is complete. At this time, your investment funds will be returned to you with a nominal interest rate started from the date of your official termination with the OHCP project. Talk with a member of the OHCP Financial Team for more details info@ourhomeicc.org

 

Can I have a pet?

Pets who are a match for an urban, shared environment are fine. See Appendix K for the Our Home – Cathedral Park pet policy

 

Will smoking be allowed?

Our Home – Cathedral Park will be a tobacco smoke-free property.

 

Can I become a member of Our Home – Cathedral Park if I do not currently live in Portland?

Yes! We anticipate bringing in neighbors from around the world.

 

Are there any cost savings associated with living in this type of cohousing community?

There are many cost savings associated with cohousing communities, including:

  • Lower maintenance costs than those associated with large single-family homes.
  • Sustainable building practices and economies of scale reduce utility and other costs.
  • Consideration for the local climate, natural daylight, and optimizing solar orientation make for highly energy-efficient buildings.
  • Solar panels are planned for the affordable units and common spaces.
  • Less reliance on cars.
  • Studies show cohousing residents drive 25% less, and own fewer vehicles.
  • Our urban setting rates a walkscore of 86.
  • We have access to public transit to and from downtown and other areas of the city.
  • Bicycle storage provided.
  • Practical benefit of knowing there are people close by in case of an emergency.

 

What responsibilities will I have in the community?

Our community will require each adult to join and participate in at least one work team, committee, or task force based on their interests, strengths and abilities. We’ll help you find something you love doing so that you can chip in and better the community. As a self-governing and participatory community, involvement is a necessary component.

 

How much work is required?

Our Home – Cathedral Park is a cooperative community that relies on its members to get things done, from performing routine maintenance to facilitating meetings. This represents a considerable savings to the community. Residents in cohousing communities generally contribute approximately three to five hours per month in an organized work system.

Many work tasks will be accomplished via members’ individual and collective labors of love. We will strive to match work with our neighbors talents, abilities and passions.

 

Will I have privacy?

Yes! Neighbors value their privacy as much as they value social contact. While shared amenities are central to cohousing, some believe privacy is respected more in cohousing communities than elsewhere. The common spaces are for playing, socializing, and being together, while the individual unit is the place for retreat and privacy. The purpose of the shared kitchen and dining area is not to enforce the idea that meals should be communal; rather, it is to provide the means to cook and eat together to promote community and interdependence.

 

Do I get free care or help if I get sick?

Our Home – Cathedral Park is an inclusive community that brings together people of all ages, abilities, and incomes, but it is not a continuing care facility. Like with most groups of friends, family, or neighbors, we expect that people will help each other in informal ways. It is possible that guest suites may be used to house a caregiver temporarily, if the community chooses.

 

Do I have to like everyone?

It is important to the health of the Our Home – Cathedral Park community that neighbors behave with respect toward one another. Living in community, we are likely to develop relationships more readily; though at times living in close proximity can also bring some inherent challenges and conflicts between neighbors. We are working to have a clearly defined conflict-resolution process in place.

We are building Our Community now!

We are actively gathering community, supporters, and funding.
For more information please contact us
Download our one-page information sheet

As in life, we at OHCP acknowledge that change happens. Information on this site is subject to updates and modifications.