Village Hearth Cohousing has announced that on May 9 its civil engineers, Coulter, Jewell, Thames, PA, submitted annexation and rezoning requests along with development plans to Durham City/County Planning Development in Durham, N.C. The project is for the construction of an LGBT-focused senior living community located 20 minutes from the downtown district on a 15-acre wooded site.

qnotes previously reported that finding a safe place to thrive in one’s twilight years can often be challenging for those from the LGBT community. The developers are working to close that gap by creating one of the first LGBT elder communities on the East Coast. It will be the first LGBT senior cohousing community in the U.S. and will also welcome allies and friends in a supportive neighborhood of active adults choosing to age together.

The facility will be conveniently located to shopping and more. It will be open to all those who are 55-years-old and above. Its aim is to provide its residents with frequent interactions with others in a secure environment.

Village Hearth’s Pat McAulay said, “One goal in creating this community is to get the systems in place to handle the changes of aging, and then we won’t have to worry about ‘what if?’ When we need some accommodation, it will already be in place. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to learning about our new neighbors’ skills, interests and passions.” She also shared that they are looking for a few more members before beginning its design workshops this fall.

Plans are being developed which include an “intent to build 28 fully-accessible homes clustered on one end of the land to preserve as much green space as possible, as well as proximity to neighbors and common facilities.” Target home prices are expected to range from $185,000 to the high $300s. “To allow a more diverse community, we’re encouraging co-buying and shared housing. There will be a small number of rental homes available for which we are currently maintaining a contact list,” McAulay added.

McAulay just attended the Aging Better Together conference held in May in Salt Lake City, Utah, sponsored by the Cohousing Association of the United States and SageHill Cohousing Partners. Serious conversations were had about creating a culture and an environment in which its members will be able to stay in their homes in community far longer than if they were isolated in their old neighborhoods. McAulay said, “The most important outcome was that 250 great minds involved in cohousing nationwide are now brainstorming about how to keep us living in community.”

Cohousing is a concept brought to the U.S. in the late 1980s by architects Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant. It provides an inherent sense of community reminiscent of a small village. Specific to aging in community, houses tailored for seniors create easy transitions throughout each individual home and pedestrian paths diminish the need for driving. Most importantly, each individual in the community has a voice, and the neighborhood is co-created.

Village Hearth Cohousing hired McCamant & Durrett Architects for the architectural design and CoHousing Solutions for development consulting, two companies with a strong track record of starting successful cohousing communities in the U.S.

Cohousing provides a place for people with a similar history to come together. For many LGBT individuals, this aspect is key, especially in a time when other alternatives, such as traditional senior communities, may have discriminatory practices and immediate families may be indifferent. Many LGBT seniors do not have children on whom they may rely, so creating a community of peers and friends makes perfect sense to co-founders Margaret Roesch and McAulay. Email them at to learn more.

info: sagehillcohousing.

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.

4 replies on “Senior housing project progresses”

  1. I’m 54 and this issue has crossed my mind. I wasn’t sure if I’d have to hire a service that might stop in twice a week or so (double checking that 98.6) or looking at something else. I don’t envision (with the exception of dementia) stepping away from my businesses. It is odd to me continuing to plot a corporate course on one hand and being confounded by the clown here to fix the dishwasher (and break something else).

  2. The story of the elderly lady living on Princess Cruises is far more interesting. It certainly got my attention because she didn’t need $180K to get on board. Granted this is a first step but the majority of elder LGBT are still stuck with lower cost options.

  3. So glad to see the group move ahead with such momentum! I’ve personally met Pat and see that the group is not only all about getting this done, they will enjoy the process because they have both feet in the future. If anyone is looking to live in a great community during their Golden Years and beyond, check Village Hearth Cohousing out!

  4. Regarding the Durham, NC development, the planner wants to prevent residents, their guests, and service providers from directly accessing the main road and force them to drive through a more difficult route, through a neighborhood, and out a dangerous turn. That difficult route is through an established neighborhood, not your community’s own private road. Many of the residents along those streets have children who rely on that more difficult route as a play area. Those residents do not oppose your community at all, just oppose routing your new neighborhood through an existing one with no sidewalks, no speed bumps, and no other communal place for the children to play. The new development should not close their access to town in order to save pennies on the backs of other families.

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