Packed In: ‘It’s just another option of housing’: Families get ready to move into co-housing neighborhood

SPOKANE, Wash. — With fewer homes available in Spokane, creating new housing options is essential. Haystack Heights is a new type of neighborhood under construction right now. When finished, it will provide permanent housing for 39 families that are taking neighborhood living to new heights.

“I think it’s an opportunity for us to raise our family and share life in community,” said Bob Francis. He’ll be one of the new home owners in the development. This will be the first house him and his wife have owned.

Haystack Heights is quite a bit different from other neighborhoods. Its goal is to bring families closer together, conserve resources and share spaces. In this three-acre development nestled in the South Perry District, families own their own $200,000–$400,000 home, but common spaces like a garden, clubhouse and maintenance responsibilities are shared. Families have to volunteer a certain amount of hours per year and play an active role in the community’s planning. These homeowners have already been doing that, because they’re also the developers of the project. No outside developer oversaw this project.

“There’s nothing special or magical about our organization other than our intent to be active neighbors with each other,” said Mariah McKay, the neighborhood’s co-founder and future resident.

Another goal is to provide intergenerational housing opportunities, so more families can live together at different stages of life. McKay wants people to know their neighborhood can be a model for other housing options in Spokane.

“That’s my hope for having the first co-housing in Spokane, is that people realize it’s attainable and desirable,” she said. “It’s just another option to add into the menu of housing in our region.”

The homes are on smaller lots, so more people can live closer together. With fewer housing options, thinking outside the box can be one way to get more people housed.

“Obviously, the single-family home model is predominant in the United States, but I think we were excited when we learned about the fact that we’ll be sharing life with other families, that our son will be raised not just by us but in the community,” Francis said.

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