Caring capacity within The Reef

Hey @reeflings, the revived @reef-inclusion speaking :blush:

Today, I had a (very positive) call with Oak Tree Projects about their potential implication with our social units.

For context, they are an organisation based in Flanders (that would willing to expand to Brussels) and offers affordable housing in cohousing projects for people with special needs.

On the plus side

They are a very established organisation, that has been repeatedly recommended to us.

They would accompany our inclusive endeavour from beginning to end: they finance the units (through an investor), propose candidates and accompany the tenants to help them integrate into the community.

They work with a variety of clients – people with mental and physical disabilities – and have had positive experiences with a diverse group within one cohousing.

As they are conscious about money, they would go for the cheaper/less sought after apartments and said they would be willing to adapt (within a certain price range) to take a space that was less popular within the group.

The would be happy to work with the architects in the planning phase and also advocate their model to the commune.

Language should be less of an issue than we feared – she was confident that (albeit the “pool” of people being reduced) we would still find suitable candidates with a good enough level of English.

(The lady I am in touch with lives in a cohousing herself and knows about all the complications and uncertainties)

On the challenging/uncertain side

They can only commit financially once we have the permit (this is a topic in itself which I’m not going to tackle here)

Everything needs to be accessible (re: elevator discussion)

AND: Because of the way they work and the (time) investment they would make within the project, the ideal set-up would be 6 units (example: 2 of 30, 2 of 35 and 2 of 40m² (bigger = wheelchair friendly)) totalling 220 to 240m² (with technical rooms etc.)

5 units is the minimum they’d want to go for

(I asked about other cohousing, her reference were two recent projects of 14 units with 4 studios and of 26 units with 6 studios so our potential ratio of say 5 to 22 seemed acceptable to her)

Hence the question to the group: How do you feel about the caring capacity of our project? Can you imagine a ratio of 5/6 inclusive units to 21/22 standard units? Do 220 to 240m² for the inclusive units (+ the studio of Lie’s dad) seem like an okay share of the overall square meters?

Launching this online now to get first impressions and to then take it to the next plenary if need be.

Thanks a lot for your input/questions etc. :blush:


Hey @Sophie_B !

Thanks for the super clear post and the relaunching of Team Inclusion :slight_smile:

Our initial thoughts on this were to have 3-5 inclusive units out of 25-30 overall units, with a potential maximum ration of 5:1. If Oak Tree Projects agree to their minimum of 5 units and we already have Lie’s dad, then 5-6 inclusive units out of 21-22 overall units is a potential maximum ration of 2.5:1 – which is obviously a completely different dynamic. My concern is not just about whether we have the caring capacity, but whether we have the integration capacity, when almost a third of the households arrive at the end of the process.

It would also create a problem with our distribution of apartments with the commune, as we already have 3 1-bedrooms amongst the Full Members and 1 very likely one amongst the Associate Members, so that would bring us to 10, which wouldn’t work.

So my input is this: I’m a big fan of the inclusive units aspect of the project, and I’m open to that happening in collaboration with Oak Trees Project. But I think 5 apartments is too much for this particular site, for the two reasons above. However, if I’m an outlier in the group with this opinion, and the practical side of things can be accommodated (by the commune), I’d be happy to adjust accordingly…


I guess you mean “carrying capacity”, right? Though “caring capacity” is a nice neologism!

We already decided on inclusive design two years ago.

What kind of special needs would the Oak Tree people have?


I did indeed ask about how the commune might “count” those units and it seems possible that they would either see them as one big unit with “subdivisions” or as something different altogether (because they are owned by Oak Tree and thus outside the “normal” housing market), so to be checked with the architects/the commune.

We have just been sent their “programme”.


I did ask about the minimum number again and this was the reply also with respect of the day to day contribution of inclusive Reeflings: “Lower than 5 studios is not affordable for us. 90% of our residents are normally-gifted and our residents are able to contribute to the tasks of the cohousing. If we have 2 wheelchair accessible units, these units are mostly rented by people with only a physical disability or by older people.”


Ok, this is unexpected. So why are they in their care?

Hi Sophie,

  • I tend to agree with Chris.
  • Linked to it I have other concerns as well.
    It’s not only about the caring/carrying capacity, for me it’s also the proportion 'owners/tenants’.
    They have a different commitment. I am thinking e.g. about tackling all the work that needs to be taken up the coming 3 years. And even after the construction there will be tasks/work to be taken up (some rather by owners than tenants, i think). I’ve understood that in Brutopia some of the units are rented out. I guess it’s not irealistic that that might happen in The Reef as well, at some point…
    One of the reasons I want to leave my current situation (=living in coloc) is the ‘tenant factor’. Tenants tend to change regularly (maybe for inclusion units, that’s less the case?). As a more introvert person, It takes energy getting used to a new reefling, getting to know them,… I can definately live with 3 inclusion units, but would prefer not more than that.
    Like Chris mentionned, we might have a problem with the commune. But for me also 'diversity’ wise, i would like to have some cheaper apartments for singles or couples with lesser budgets, to make it for them feasable to buy a unit in a cohousing. So also having an issue with having ‘a lot’ of the lesser budget apartments being taken up by them. If I understood well, the units we’ll have a bigger problem getting rid of, is not the cheaper ones, but the most expensive ones…
  • on the other hand, i think working with Oak Trees Project would be a great thing, as they handle a lot of aspects we don’t need to worry about. I guess they are quite unique so finding other partners like them seems irealistic?
    And i wouldn’t know how to find well trusted social investors (like Marcel), they don’t go through the exploring/associate/full membership phase. They should almost be family, friends, …

I agree with most of the points brought up above.

Looking at their programme however it seems to me that it is not compatible with the RRU, so I think it would make sense to figure that out before we put in more energy.

One of the points of concern is the size of the studios. It’s not possible based on the RRU to have studios of 25 m², and it seems like they also don’t want to invest space in putting them together in one big unit, so ot looks like a compromise will be needed?