Joshua Morrison

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

The Frolic Model: Transforming Single Family Homes Into Urban Cohousing

This thesis articulates the Frolic Model developed through the DesignX incubator at MIT with input from over 40 developers and city staff working in major cities across the U.S. By restructuring the development process around mutual gains, the Frolic Model brings the benefits of homeownership to a broader population, while allowing smaller, more intimate development projects to become viable.

The three principles of the Frolic Model are cooperative financing, codevelopment, and cohousing. The cooperative financing structure enables crowd-investing and a decoupling of share ownership and tenancy. This allows residents to act as long-term tenants of a project without requiring a large down payment or a personal mortgage. They can then own as much of the project as they can afford and desire to own. It also allows others in the neighborhood to buy shares in the project and invest in a tangible, low-risk, low-return community asset. Over time, low wealth residents can purchase more shares and build additional equity in their home. Partnering with land owners to co-develop their property, we allow them to avoid displacement and financially benefit from redevelopment. Through elements of cohousing, we create infrastructure for community and improve affordability through shared amenities.

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