Housing for Women, a small housing association and charity, was represented at the workshop by then-director, Elizabeth Clarson. She contacted Maria to offer the association’s help in developing the concept of cohousing for older women. In June 1999 a formal partnership agreement was made between Housing for Women and the OWCH group. Thus was born a collaborative relationship between Housing for Women and OWCH that has lasted to this day, with Meera Bedi, H4W’s director of new developments for most of the ensuing years, playing an important facilitative role.

H4F’s role was to ‘broker’ relationships with larger housing associations with development capacity and access to land. This was needed because, from the start, the OWCH women were keen to be socially inclusive and provide for older women who lacked equity. In the early years, this required a Housing Grant which could only be obtained via a registered housing association. Over time, the availability of Housing Grant diminished. As a result, no public money has been drawn upon for the social rental units included in our cohousing community.