Resources for cohousing projects

This section of the site focuses on the resources we are producing to support funding applications and evaluate what we are doing. As such, they may be helpful if you want to explore cohousing, or set up a project. We add items as we go along.

All projects have their own characteristics. Ours is defined by a focus on the needs of older people plus our wish to create affordable rental homes as a lasting community benefit. We also live in Orkney, and like many other community initiatives in the Highlands and Islands, we have to deal with problems arising from our remote location and a chronic shortage of appropriate housing. 

The five phases – and funding gaps – in community-led housing/cohousing projects

This document sets out on one page the various tasks involved in a community-led housing/cohousing build. It was produced so that potential funders could understand what stage we are at in the project – and the funding gaps faced. It also identifies the major financial holes governments have to address if they are to take community-led housing seriously. [Project phases and funding gaps]

The project timeline

We developed another one-page document as we were asked by a funder to produce a timeline. As we worked on the diagram we began to appreciate how it could help improve their understanding of our project. Some new to cohousing might be surprised at the amount of work involved in a scheme like ours, and that it takes five or more years to get to the point when building can actually begin. [Hope Cohousing timeline]

Our project aims – and some of the problems we face 

When talking to other groups and agencies – and to people interested in what we are doing – it has been helpful to provide them with a short (two-sided) briefing document. [Hope Cohousing briefing]

Why cohousing is good for people and communities – the evidence

Every so often we get asked to back up our claims concerning the contribution cohousing can make to individual wellbeing and community life. Thankfully, over the last five years or so, researchers have found strong evidence to support four key claims. These are that cohousing:

  • reduces social isolation and loneliness.
  • fosters agency, mutual aid, and wellbeing.
  • adds to the supply of affordable housing.
  • strengthens community life and sense of place.

You can view our discussion of this research with live links to key reports – Why cohousing is good for people and communities – the evidence – or download a pdf version.

Governance – choosing the right structures for cohousing

At several points in the project, we have had to examine our governance arrangements. To help us to think about what the right structure might be we put together a governance ‘matrix’ which might be helpful to others thinking about cohousing. It shows the characteristics of different organizational forms: Charity and Company limited by guarantee; Community Interest Company; Cooperative Society; Community Benefit Society; Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Some organisations will also want to explore community land trusts  [HCH_governance_matrix].

Finance, governance, and getting to the build on budget

hope cohousing

Hope Cohousing features in a series of cohousing conversations hosted by Cohousing Scotland. Our presentation and discussion focus on finance, getting to the build on budget, and governance.  Click to view on YouTube.

The potential of cohousingcohousing on Regenerative Scotland

Click to listen to Jenny Rambridge (Hope Cohousing) and  Norrie McPhail (Cohousing Scotland) talking with Ariane Burgess (Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands) about the potential of cohousing in Scotland.

The HCH story in three minutes

rural housing conference video

Made for the Rural Housing Summit 2021, this video tells our story in 3 minutes. [Click to view]

Things have moved on since we help make the video. We have six rather than five houses, and a covered walkway rather than an internal street. Thankfully, with help from the Rural Communities in Action Fund (Inspiring Scotland/The Scottish Government) and Crown Estates Scotland, we have funding to cover preconstruction activities. In association with the Communities Housing Trust, we are now working to raise money for the build itself. 


updated: February 19, 2024