When Emily Blake first discovered she was pregnant at 34, her flatmate told her they could carry on living together. But when baby Jaden arrived, his crying and feeding schedules, and Blake’s sleepless nights, began to take a toll on her once-agreeable living arrangement.
“It can be difficult living with kids for someone who doesn’t have them,” she says.
After leaving her flat, Blake, now 35, didn’t have a home of her own for the better part of a year. She slept in a friend's spare room for several months before saving enough to put down a deposit on a house, aided by a housing start-up. But even then, she knew she’d have to divide the rent and bills with others to be able to afford the expenses of keeping a house – and it was difficult to find housemates who were comfortable living with a single mother with young children.
An internet search led her to CoAbode, a website that connects single mothers looking for shared accommodation. CoAbode was founded by Carmel Boss in 2002, after her own marriage ended and she had to raise her seven-year-old son in Los Angeles on her own.
“As a new single mom I felt lonely and doubtful about raising my son on my own,” says Boss. “Where was my tribe, my village?”
Boss put out an ad in a local paper for another single mum to share a home with. When 18 women responded she knew she was on to something. The pooled resources and emotional support that came from living with another single mother was something that mums were craving – and, throughout the past two decades, she says that hundreds of thousands of mothers have signed up on the site to find a housing match, including Emily Blake.
In late July Blake picked up the keys for a five-bedroom home in Central Alemeda, an area of Los Angeles in California. There she and three mothers and their children will make their own ‘mommune’.