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The AGEncy Project

Balmain, NSW

The AGEncy Project is a community of people who mostly live around Balmain in Sydney’s inner west that want to establish a collaborative housing project. It’s called the AGEncy Project because the people involved want to retain agency as they grow older. They don’t want to stop contributing, to fade out of life, and lose control over their choices and decisions, lose relevance to their community. They are – and they want to remain – engaged, active participants in their community.

Category: Building groups

 

About the project

 

The AGEncy Project is a community of people who mostly live around Balmain in Sydney’s inner west that want to establish a collaborative housing project. It’s called the AGEncy Project because the people involved want to retain agency as they grow older. They don’t want to stop contributing, to fade out of life, and lose control over their choices and decisions, lose relevance to their community. They are – and they want to remain – engaged, active participants in their community.

 

The AGEncy Project’s vision is a particular type of cohousing that is specifically, though not exclusively, designed to support and enable a healthy active life for all of them as they get older. They are looking at a range of options that include building something brand new if they find the right piece of land, to renovating or converting an existing building. Because land is at a premium in their neighbourhood, they are probably looking at a medium density apartment building with about 25 units.

 

The community

 

The core of the community raised their now adult children together and have many shared life experiences. They have a huge diversity of skills and interests and also common beliefs about the importance of people, communities, networks and environmental sustainability.

 

Each of them understands that, to have the best chance of ageing well, they need to be in well designed and well-located housing, close to shops and services and other amenities and supported by their friends and networks.

 

They have also established the AGEncy Hub. This initiative is separate to the housing and aims to create a practical, supportive local network of people, services and activities. It focused on helping people to live safely and well at home – in the best health possible, socially connected and assisted as needed – as they grow older.

 

At the 2018 Annual General Meeting, there were 108 financial members, and 143 people in total. Some are still in their 40s, most of them are in their 50s and 60s and a few people are a bit older than that.

 

Project snapshot
What are the goals?
How did it happen?
Legalities and financing

Governance

The site will be designed to deliver:

  • An adaptable, flexible design, allowing for ageing in place

  • Opportunities for social interaction and engagement with neighbours as part of a community

  • Carbon-neutral living, rain water recycling, carpooling and composting

  • Cost savings through sharing utilities, transport, gardens, laundry and health care

  • Resident ownership of the process and building, so there’s a sense of belonging and care.

The Agency Project grew out of the interests of a group of people with shared life experiences. They had a social network already and collaborative housing seemed like a logical extension. Over time, the close network of friends held planning workshops that broadened the network. They are working hard to find a suitable property or land.

The AGEncy project is incorporated as Inner West AGEncy Project Incorporated. They are considering various title options for their building, including strata title, co-op, long term leasing, build to rent type model, and community or company title. Financing options are still being explored.

A group of over 60 members ran a co-design workshop in 2017 that identified themes to work on, including: 1. Vision, objectives and philosophy; 2. Governance; 3. Legal and financial; 4. Health and wellbeing; 5. Connection to wider community and cohousing; 6. Location; and 7. Design. After the workshop, different committees were formed to take actions forward. The group continues to meet regularly to pursue their vision.

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