Cohousing Communiqué


The application window for a new cohousing project in Sebastopol has been extended, says Neil Saxby of Affordable Housing Associates. Petaluma Avenue Homes, which is currently under construction as the first affordable, rent-based cohousing project in California, is still accepting applications for tenancy past its original deadline.

Petaluma Avenue Homes is modeled after other successful local cohousing communities, like FrogSong in Cotati or Yulupa Cohousing in Santa Rosa. A key difference is that the one- to three-bedroom units, tailored to low-income families, are offered only for rent, a rarity in cohousing projects. This makes the monthly payment for tenants far more affordable; rents will range from $437 to $1,213.

Consisting of 45 units surrounding two courtyards, Petaluma Avenue Homes follows the traditional cohousing model with many shared spaces. A 3,000-square-foot common house includes a communal dining room, living room, sitting room, kids room, computer room and two offices. A shared outdoor area and community garden complete the 2.5-acre site.

Is a gung-ho attitude about the philosophy of cohousing a requirement? “That’s not necessarily going to make or break an application,” says Saxby. “We’re definitely interested in people who are enthusiastic about being part of this cohousing community, because it is the first rental affordable-cohousing concept in California. But more importantly, it’s based on income. That’s the main criteria.”

The application process is not unlike applying for an apartment, although being a low-income project, a maximum income in addition to a minimum income is required. This maximum income is 60 percent of the area mean income. One person seeking to live at Petaluma Avenue Homes must make at least $10,488 per year but no more than $32,700. As usual, HUD requirements are subject to change.

Cohousing is designed to incorporate individual private spaces and shared community spaces. Interaction and group planning for social activities is encouraged. Preference is given to those applicants who live or work in Sebastopol; one pet per household is allowed.

Petaluma Avenue Homes is scheduled for completion later this year and anticipated for occupancy early next year. Applications can be downloaded from [ http:-/ ]