Ideas:Co-housing Community Bank
From: Bruce Miller (
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 94 14:42 CDT
Jerome F Rigot wrote :

> Hello,
>         At N St Cohousing, in Davis, CA, we are interested in starting a
> coop bank or a coop credit union, basically a financial institution that
> would allow us to become more economically self-sufficient, and could be
> used in many ways,
> i.e., providing small loans to members for home improvements, such as
> purchase of energy efficient appliances, new roofs, home insulation, or for
> the financing of community enterprises, as tools and car coops, Common
> House improvements, etc...Does anybody have any experience or info about
> what this venture would entail?
>         We are considering two options, either the legal way (either for
> profit or non-profit), and thus we need appropriate legal details or just
> doing an "in-house" coop financial institution, where your own experience
> of the initial set-up, incentive to the members, start-up details and any
> other info you could think of would be greatly appreciated.
>         I already posted this announcement, but I had problems and I lost
> the info that was sent to me, also, I didn't receive many answers, but
> since the membership for this bulletin board increases steadily, I am
> hoping to get more info.  Please send your feed back directly to me.
> Thanks.
> --Jerome
> --
> Jerome F. Rigot
> Department of Environmental Toxicology
> 4416 Meyer Hall
> University of California, Davis
> Davis, CA 95616
> U.S.A
> Phone: W: (916)752-5896
>        H: (916)753-7617
> e-mail: jfrigot [at]

Jerome and others-
I'm new to the cohousing server here and this is my first
contribution, please bear with my unfamiliarity with protocol.
Jerome asked for direct replies, but I've chosen to respond in
the clear because I think this issue has a larger interested
audience than might perhaps actively contribute. Onto the meat of
my message....

There is an alternative bank in New Zealand where I live which
sponsors ecological, ethical and social projects. Prometheus has 
regular depositors who get real interest and make real loans
which require real committments for repayment. The difference is 
that they for one, have an understanding of the alternative
community issues such as those to which you have referred in a
cohousing environment.

We arranged finance for a Steiner kindergarten by having each
family pledge to be responsible for a small portion of the
overall loan. No mortgage was placed on possesions or property.

A variation on this theme might work for the AdHoc Improvement
fund you are looking to  setup. A proposal could be made to even 
a normal bank to open a line of credit, based on a collective
pledge from members. A board would then be responsible for
approving a project and a repayment plan. Hopefully the bank
would give a good interest rate based on low risk and an
expectation that a more or less continuous loan would be inplace 
for some time to come. In fact if a list of planned projects and 
thier cost were part of the proposal it would give the banks
something to base thier bids on.

The long term option of setting up your own credit union or
private bank would then build on an established system and have
the interest profit recyled in the specific community. If you are
into banking I think that would be great. If not I personally
think the existing banks can be educated to provide better
service and even be proactive in offering tailored services for
cohousing initiatives.


Bruce K. Miller

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