Cohousing, Environmental Justice, and Urban Sustainability

Environmental Ethics 40 (2):135-151 (2018)
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Abstract

Several researchers hold that the cohousing movement supports sustainability, but it remains economically restrictive. This condition challenges cohousing’s status as sustainable, considering that its financially exclusive nature fails to meaningfully address sustainability’s social dimension. Yet, it is doubtful that the cohousing movement set out to create this outcome. When we examine the historical conditions that pertain to multifamily housing, we discover a long-standing pattern of discrimination. For today’s cohousing communities, we see that they are dealing with the residual effects of such prejudicial practices. Most of the unfair treatment comes from zoning and lending, but we also see that cohousing has internal challenges that complicate matters. Through employing an environmental justice framework, however, we can parse kinds of responsibility. If planners, financiers, and cohousing communities can remove these barriers, then cohousing can bolster efforts in urban sustainability.

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