A cohousing for young people with a mental disability


In an earlier post I had written something about a young man with Down syndrome that I met in our scouting group who went to live alone in a cohousing (see video clip at the end of that post).

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to talk to his mother, who explained everything about the cohousing. Here’s a couple of points that are worth documenting, plus some personal thoughts.

1. About the cohousing

  • The cohousing is a fully private initiative. The lead was taken by a couple who has two disabled children. They renovated a house around the corner and teamed up with other parents of disabled children.

  • The cohousing is for people with a disability only, with the exception of a couple who can stay there for free provided that they are available for emergencies during the night. There is place for 11 people (rooms and studios). All residents need to have some sort of occupation during the day (work or care centre)

  • The parents pool parts of their childrens’ “personal care budgets” to purchase care together. This includes somebody who comes in in the morning to check whether everybody is ok and has breakfast, somebody who comes in in the evening to cook dinner, and some educators who come in between 4 and 7 pm for some emotional support.

  • Because there is not enough money to provide care during the weekends (now only on Sunday) the parents take turns (so every 11 weeks) to cook for the residents. This is also an excellent way to get to know each other and feel involved in the project.

  • Part of the capital cost seems to have been financed through some sort of cooperative model. What I understand is that every family was asked to give a loan of at least 10.000 euro, to which they receive a 2% dividend every year.

  • The fact that they rent their rooms or studios makes it easier to exit the project. Of the 11 original residents 2 decided to leave because the formula didn’t really work for them. New residents were found to take their place.

  • If anybody is interested we have an invitation to go visit.

2. Some thoughts for The Reef

  • Making abstraction of the language barrier, a project like this seems like a win-win to me.

  • How this could work in the context of building The Reef however is a complete mystery to me. First of all because it would be like building a cohousing within a cohousing, with all the complications (finding a group + finding money) in parallel. And second because what these parents are doing is extremely complicated in terms of financials (paying for all the caretakers). And then I’m working on the assumption that our interlocutor would be the parents who own the unit, and not the parents of the 11 residents.

  • Long story short: it’s beautiful, but I’m afraid it’s too complicated. If we want to go for a big unit that can house several people together, I’m afraid we’ll have to partner up with a professional organisation like Oaktree Projects or Hubbie.


I’d love to go and visit them - would that work if I can’t speak any Dutch but understand a fair bit?

I’m sure we can make that work. Anybody else want to join? It’s in Mortsel, easy to reach by train from Brussels.

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I would be interested too (after the 6/2)


Great! Are you by any chance available on Wednesdays during the day? If not, which specific weekend days (after 12/02) would work for you?

15/2 and 22/2 during daytime could work !

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I’d be available those days after 12am :slight_smile:


Let’s say 15/02?

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I wrote them an email but didn’t get a reply yet. I’ll keep you posted.