Skip to content


Before move-in

2004–2005: Vision

The founders began building a network of like-minded people and key collaborators.

Originally, the group intended to remodel an existing apartment complex. They quickly realized that by pooling their resources they could finance a custom design for the quality of community life they hoped to create and with the kinds of ecological features to which they were committed.

2006: Financing and professional partners

As the group began to look for a site, they formed an LLC made up of the four founders and an additional team of seven households. A 12-unit apartment complex on a public transit corridor in North Portland was located.

ShoreBank Pacific serviced both commercial property and construction loans. A significant piece of their financing was also provided by friends and family. The loan requirements included a secondary schematic design which included removing the 50-year-old silver maple to make space for a parking lot. Fortunately, the tree survived.

Daybreak hired B&G Builders of Portland, known for their knowledge of and commitment to ecological building practices.

Grace Kim, of Schemata Workshop, author of the study Designing the Cohousing Common House based on her research in Denmark, was hired. Daybreak became Schemata’s first multi-family project.

2007: Design process and sustainability priorities

Schemata organized a day-long sustainability charrette hosted by the multi-national Arup Group. The report included design strategies to maximize environmental integrity in systems including human health, ventilation, water efficiency, heating and hot water, building envelope, renewables, passive solar and energy monitoring.

The Daybreak project relied heavily on collaboration and communication between the different teams with no legally binding integrated project delivery (IPD) contracts. The back-and-forth was challenging, but also something all the team members cite as a rewarding aspect of the project.

Sustainability features are outlined on the About page.


2008 to 2009: During the financial crisis

Daybreak was designed and financed at the height of the market and had to sell at its lowest. Of those households which had pre-purchased, many experienced financial strain and hardship. The original community suffered: only two of the founder families were able to move in, and then only as renters. Of the original 22 household buy-ins, only seven households were able to complete their purchase, while all the other households’ investments were lost.


2015–2019: Construction defect insurance claim

Over time, Daybreak residents discovered substantial defects in the original construction, such as walkways and roof drainage. The Daybreak HOA hired an attorney and other professionals to file a claim under the Wrap Insurance policy covering construction defects. The HOA, through its consensus process, levied a special assessment to cover the costs related to filing the claim. An ad hoc team worked with the attorneys and claims experts and a settlement with the insurance company was accepted in August 2017. During the next couple of years, the Facilities Team took over monitoring the repair work and managing the contractors.

The ten year mark

2019: Daybreak continues its experiment

Our 30-unit community continues to change. We welcomed six new homeowners this year—one a returning founder—and have six units rented. There are now four households owned by early investors.

Grace Kim, Daybreak’s lead architect, visited the community in September. Many of us attended the casual gathering and talked about the pros and cons of the architecture, community and urban living, and how different cohousing communities handle decision-making, meals, participation and conflict.

Daybreak Cohousing celebrated our tenth anniversary in November with a community dinner and appreciation given to the Facilities Team for their work on the lengthy insurance claim and repair project.

Source for the period between 2004–2017:
Class project for the Department of Urban Studies College of Urban and Public Affairs,
Portland State University, March 20, 2017, by student Alicia Cohen
View or download the PDF

I came to Daybreak in 2007 because I wanted to live in cohousing. I had come to believe that this kind of intentional community was the best way for people to live together in our time.

Daybreak resident