· 25 May 2018

"Cohousing" or how to become independent after 65

Por cenie
"Cohousing" o cómo independizarse a partir de los 65 años - Sociedad

A new social class may have been born. A generation completely adapted to the current times and linked to the so-called millennials: they have an acceptable health, they remain autonomous and independent and seek to find a place to reside, away from traditional models.

According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in Spain there were 4,687,400 people living alone in 2017, of which 1,960,900 (41.8%) were 65 years or older, and a life expectancy of 86 years in the case of women and almost 81, in men.

With the fundamental objective of finding a satisfactory way to continue maintaining its rhythm of life, years ago the senior cohousing model emerged, a regime of self-managed community and formed by independent dwellings, in which elderly people coexist and where common areas and services prevail (dining room, hairdressing salon, cinema room, etc.).

In Spain there are 30 cohousing centers, although only ten in operation, according to the Movicoma project, a research study on the movement of collaborative housing for the elderly, led by the Open University of Catalonia. This project seeks to map this type of housing, identify the factors included in the development of these models and, finally, evaluate the psychosocial impact on the elderly and their environment. "The residents reject the solutions they have foreseen for them and the way in which they are defined as older: they do not want to go to a residence, nor depend on the children, nor grow old in their own house in solitude," they relate from the project Movicoma

Project management

The senior cohousing 

It is a self-managed regime, that is to say, it is the people themselves who decide the way in which they want to live and with whom they wish to reside.

"In the gestation period of the project it is in which the future users get to know each other, establishing links and, to a certain extent, accepting the group or car, excluding themselves from it," says Ignacio González, a partner in Life Abogados, Legally advises on the implementation of this type of collaborative housing.

The model that has been established is that of use transfer cooperative. "Unlike the traditional one, the person is not the owner of the apartment, he only has his right to use, delegable and transmissible, but always through the cooperative," explains Rogelio Ruiz, architect at eCohousing, of the Bloque Arquitectos team, in charge of the design by Trabensol, the first senior cohousing made in Spain, in Torremocha del Jarama, in Madrid.

To avoid any speculation, in Trabensol, the 54 homes, all of them 50 square meters and facing south, are owned by the cooperative. Only when the partner or the pair of residents dies or leaves the center, is liquidated, in favor of their heirs, the investment delivered at the beginning (around 145,000 euros) plus their price update, or sell their rights to a new partner "The cooperative makes sure that the new member of the center complies with the conditions of the group," says Ruiz.

Trabensol also establishes a community fee for residents, ranging from 800 to 1,000 euros, depending on whether the household is unipersonal or not. This fee includes personal services, general maintenance and personnel.

This cooperative financed the entire project, including operating costs, becoming a clear success story.

But cohousing initiatives focused on making the last years of life of the elderly more pleasant are still counted.

Political initiatives

In the political sphere, "for the moment there has been little movement," says the partner of Life Lawyers, "although both the PSOE and Citizens are working to incorporate the disclosure of this model in their respective political programs."

Last year, the Health Commission of Congress approved an initiative of the PP that urged the Government to promote collaborative housing or cohousing among the elderly.

"Good part of these projects could be promoted from the own city councils, that have ground to yield in regime of administrative concession", maintains Ignacio González.

Of the same opinion is Juan Casares, president of the Confederation of Housing and Rehabilitation Cooperatives (Concovi): "There are many dotacionales grounds that the public administrations do not know what to do with them and that, even, they are degrading the environment, becoming landfills, by the area where they are located ".

Some of the main members of this confederation, such as the Galician Union of Housing Cooperatives (Ugacovi), are betting on cohousing. For example, the cooperative Galivivienda has just created a section dedicated to this matter. "Starting from the transfer of use of a municipal land and a project that is not their property, they are currently working on an initial contribution of between 25,000 and 30,000 euros, and a monthly fee of between 400 and 900 euros," they comment from Life Lawyers.

According to a report prepared by the Democratic Union of Pensioners and Retirees (UDP), two out of three people have heard or know about cohousing and almost 90% of respondents said that the Administration should help boost the development of this type of collaborative housing.

Source: El Mundo

Under the framework of: Programa Operativo Cooperación Transfronteriza España-Portugal
Sponsors: Fundación General de la Universidad de Salamanca Fundación del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas Direção Geral da Saúde - Portugal Universidad del Algarve - Portugal