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Public health should promote co-operative housing and cohousing

  • Amy LubikEmail author
  • Tom Kosatsky
Commentary

Abstract

In promoting healthier built environments, attention worldwide has focused largely on streetscapes and recreational spaces, with less regard given to housing form, in particular to the health effects of communal housing. Research demonstrates that communal housing models, such as cohousing and co-operative housing, promote social inclusion, and increase the perceived well-being and mental and physical health of residents, particularly of seniors. In Canada, relative to other countries, there is a paucity of evidence for the health effects of co-operatives and cohousing. Historically, some Indigenous communities constructed longhouses, connected dwellings situated around common areas, a form which may still be useful in promoting healthy communities. In this commentary, we suggest that improving access to co-operative and communal housing is an important area for public health involvement.

Keywords

Social isolation Housing Indigenous Social connections 

Résumé

Partout dans le monde, les efforts de promotion d’environnements bâtis plus sains se sont concentrés en grande partie sur le paysage des rues et les espaces récréatifs, et moins sur les formes d’habitation, en particulier les effets des habitations communautaires sur la santé. Des études ont montré que les modèles d’habitation communautaire, comme la cohabitation et les coopératives, favorisaient l’inclusion sociale et amélioraient la perception du bien-être et de la santé mentale et physique des résidents, surtout les personnes âgées. Au Canada, comparativement aux autres pays, les effets de la cohabitation et des coopératives sur la santé ne sont pas suffisamment documentés. Autrefois, certaines collectivités autochtones construisaient des longues maisons, c’est-à-dire des unités d’habitation connectées autour d’aires communes, une structure qui pourrait s’avérer utile encore aujourd’hui dans la promotion de collectivités saines. Dans ce commentaire, nous suggérons que les services de santé publique devraient s’investir dans l’amélioration de l’accès aux coopératives et aux habitations communautaires.

Mots-clés

Isolement social Habitation Autochtone Liens sociaux 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Helen Ward, Michele Wiens, and Aroha Miller (National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health) for editing and suggestions.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BC Centre for Disease ControlVancouverCanada

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