Commune-style housing popping up in Vancouver

Due to increasingly unaffordable real estate prices and low vacancies, some Vancouverites have opted to share their housing and social needs by entering collective housing. Those who live in collective housing not only share the same space, but also create a community where resources and work are shared.

Jen Muranetz moved into her first collective home about four years ago, attracted by the idea of housemates who shared a greater purpose than splitting the cost of living. Now, she and four other adults share a cozy home in east Vancouver, and she claims their setup mirrors that of an actual family.

“I’ve lived with roommates and it’s been nice, but you only connect with each other to a certain extent,” she said. “You’re on your own paths, doing your own thing. But here we’ve come together because we believe in a shared vision, essentially.”

Muranetz is part of the Collective Housing Society, a resource and advocacy group for collective homes around Vancouver. The group encompasses about 20 homes in various neighbourhoods, and includes everyone, from students and professionals, to seniors and families. Vancouver isn’t alone in having a housing collective community, as Victoria, San Francisco, and Montréal have similar networks.

A zoning bylaw in Vancouver that prohibits more than five unrelated adults from living together in a single dwelling has created issues for larger collectives. As a result, some collective homes, particularly in old mansions in Shaughnessy, operate in defiance of the law.

“If you have a house with, say, eight bedrooms, and the rent for that house is $5,000-$6,000, of course they’re going to rent out eight bedrooms, not just five,” Muranetz said. “The reality is that the definition of family is evolving, especially in a housing crisis in Vancouver.”

Also read: What can $500,000 buy you in Toronto and Vancouver?


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