A cohousing consultant and workshop
From: Jerry Callen (jcallenThink.COM)
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 14:54 CST
   Date: Fri, 12 Nov 93 13:32 CST
   From: Elise Matthesen <EMATTHESEN [at] MADMAX.MPR.ORG>

   Perhaps I'm mistaken, but at least in the Scandianvian communities
   where the idea began, affordability *is* important.

The FIRST Danish communities were build by affluent people.

Until the entire building industry in this country accepts cohousing as
something that's actually feasible, it's likely to stay relatively
expensive. Certainly the banks look at it as "unconventional," which means
(to them) "risky," and that alone will drive up the financing costs.

Further, why should cohousing be any less expensive to build than
conventional housing? You have to do all the usual things - buy land, pay
for professional services from architects, engineers, lawyers, etc. - AND
you want to build extensive common facilities, AND you want a lot of client
participation in the design process. 

   I don't mean to dump a buncha negatives in here.  I admit I'm a bit
   sad about some learning experiences (heh) around individual and group
   readiness to choose and decide and make things happen, and my partner
   and I and our housemate are currently investigating other possibilities.
   I welcome a hard-nosed practical approach; perhaps that comes from being
   raised in a blue-collar environment.

The "hard-nosed practical approach" is to recognize that there's no magic
about cohousing with respect to cost. I look at it this way: if a household
can't afford to buy a conventional house, then it can't afford cohousing.
Why SHOULDN'T this be true?

   End rant, and I hope I haven't grossly insulted anybody.  I know that
   we've all got different priorities.  It's just that this darned
   stubborn Danish-American believes that there's something in
   Scandinavian cohousing that we would do well to take a hard look
   at; I fear it makes us look, rather deservedly, at the weird ways
   Americans act around class and money issues, and wince.

No offense, just a vigorous response. :-)

Scandanavian cohousing has been around for 20 years now, and has (in some
cases) government backing. Being fundamentally an optimist, I'd ask you to
look at the state of U.S. cohousing in another 15 years before you throw
rocks at it.

-- Jerry Callen

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