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Creating a tight-knit community

Being part of a co-housing project is demanding under the best of circumstances.

Would-be residents aren’t just buying a home – they meet regularly and at length, working out the details of their community, and become well- acquainted neighbors in the process.

But for the prospective residents of Wolf Creek Lodge, a 30-unit senior co-housing project under construction on Freeman Lane, the downturn in the economy meant being stranded without financing for the last two years.

“The project was agreed to by the banks, but at the last minute they pulled the funding,” said prospective resident Dick Shannon.

“We didn’t think it would take two years, we always thought it would be next month,” said another member, Jacque Bromm.

Funding finally came through this fall, which Co-housing Partners President Kathryn McCamant attributed to the members’ dedication.

“They kept up the outreach, bringing on more residents, and got the bank on board,” McCamant said. “They didn’t just keep the original members, but brought new people on board who were making a financial investment.”

With 21 households signed on today, they lost three during the two-year limbo, but gained five, said Deleaua Shannon, Dick Shannon’s wife.

The promise of the unique, tight-knit community setting kept them going, she added.

“For me it is a vision of where I want to end up,” Deleaua Shannon said. “I want that co-housing experience of having neighbors like extended family. My husband and I are trying to be proactive so that if something happens to one of us, the other is not left isolated.”

And even though construction has just begun, that family – drawing members from southern California, the Bay Area and even Virginia – has already formed, she added.

“Our emphasis is on seniors. There are only four (similar projects) in the country, and that attracts me. All of us are aging and I think with the support of your neighbors is the best way to do that,” Bromm said.

Surveys at another Nevada County senior co-housing project show its residents suffer from the same health issues as anyone in that age group, but they reported feeling better than others, McCamant said.

The age range for Wolf Creek so far is from the mid 50’s to 87.

Beyond the social interaction and support network created through co-housing, Bromm said the project has many “green” benefits, too, from shared laundry facilities to potentially buying a shared electric car.

The project is walking distance to the shopping centers off McKnight Way, and also offers scenic retreat on Wolf Creek, which runs through the property, both promoting walkability, McCamant said.

Building should be complete within 14 to 18 months, at a total cost of $11.5 million. A second phase will include 32 townhouses, grouped together as another co-housing project on site, McCamant said.

To contact Staff Writer Greyson Howard, e-mail ghoward@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4237.