If you were a person with any access to the news over the last year, you probably came across the idea of the “loneliness epidemic.” In case you haven’t heard: Loneliness is a public health issue. Rates of loneliness are rising. United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May considered loneliness such a serious issue she appointed a government minister to address it.
But even as loneliness has become a topic of public conversation, fewer people are living alone. Nearly 32 percent of American adults lived in shared homes in 2017—many of those homes shared with people other than romantic partners—compared to 27.4 percent in 2004. Since 1980, when multigenerational living hit a low in the U.S., the number of people living with their parents, grandparents, and children as adults has been rising again, and not solely out of financial necessity.
For our first themed issue of 2019, we look at communal living across life stages: What was it like for a generation of children to grow up in the initial wave of U.S. co-housing communities a quarter century ago? Do home-share programs present solutions to density and affordability issues in cities? What can we learn from coliving communities for young professionals in 1930s New York City? Our city sites dig deeper on a few of these topics, including communal living for tech employees in the Bay Area, punk houses and off-campus living in Seattle, and an affordable-housing pilot program in New York.
And that’s just a sampling. In exploring how people live together, we’ve learned there are as many ways to live communally as there are communities making a go of it.—Sara Polsky
John Malta and Siobhan Gallagher are the illustrators responsible for the Communal Living Issue artwork. Collectively, they’ve lived in 8 different cities with 41 roommates. They are an illustration power couple that live and work together in Ridgewood, Queens.
Writers: Ellen Freeman, Siobhan Gallagher, Courtney E. Martin, Marisa Meltzer, Joanna Scutts, Sarah Treleaven, Alissa Walker
Editor: Sara Polsky
Art Direction: Alyssa Nassner
Illustrations: John Malta, Siobhan Gallagher
Copy Editor: Emma Alpern
Engagement: Jessica Gatdula, Sharell Jeffrey
Special Thanks: Kelsey Keith, Mariam Aldhahi