From: gkvontob (gkvontobCOLBY.EDU)
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 94 08:04 CDT
>Stephen & others pursuing affordability in new projects: could you comment
>on ways you've tried to making cohousing affordable not only to people who
>can buy a house, but also to people who can't take that step or are not at a
>house-buying stage in their lives?
>Jeffrey Hobson                                    N Street Cohousing 
>dcn00109 [at]         Davis Energy Group

Hello from Grace, 
We have been committed to a 2 to 1 ratio of low-income to mid & up-income
MIXED-inome community.  Lenders have done eveything under the sun to divide
us and put the po' folk into a ghetto.  Our solution has been a bizarre
collection of legal entities (1 low-income co-op that will receive FmHA 1%
mortgages and other assorted affordability assists.  1 market-rate co-op
that will accomodate those ineligible for assistance.  and 1 Homeowners'
Association that will bind the two co-ops together. 2 outside organizations
will also be involved in community:  Kennebec Land Trust will hold a
conservation easement on 80% of the rural tract to land; and Maine
Homestead Land Trust Alliance will hold Affordable Housing Covenants with
BOTH co-ops to ensure perpetual affordability)  
So far I have not posted anything about our work at grant writing.  This is
a major magilla and I feel like my life is one long series of deadlines for
term paper projects.  I am NOT a professional grant writer...tho I may
become one before this is over [meanwhile trying to have a life beyond
CoHousing :)].  I started grant writing by taking a course via local
commnity college, also went to a seminar on networking for funds from the
faith community, and spent time at the Office for Sponsored Research at the
U. of Maine.  I don't know if or what is the equivalent in other states. 
Here in Maine, there is one library resource that holds the best of what
there is about foundations, grants, etc.  It is the doorway into fund
raising for novices.  

Kennebec Valley CoHousing has a variety of grant proposals in process.  The
first big one landed was Federal Home Loan Bank Grant for affordable
housing ($144,000 for site development and land acquisition).  Other irons
are still in the fire and more to be launched.  I learned at the Grants
seminar "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."  Pursue a variety of
funders--look for a minimum of 10 hot prospects.  "Do your homework"--i.e.
answer ALL the questions on the applications, send thank you notes, follow
up, communicate clearly why you have a unique and solid solution to a real
and serious need.  There are people and organizations looking for
progressive social change and who want to invest in excellent projects. 

There is no way I could walk into a bank and land a commercial mortgage at
my income--I'm a secretary.  For me mixed-income community is important
because I want an affordable home, but I don't want to be off in a ghetto. 
These last 2 1/2 years have forged bonds across a variety of differences in
our community.  For KVCH--diversity IS part of our strength.  The fact that
bankers, FmHA, etc. have never heard of such nor have a clue about
consensus decision-making and other cooperative procedures is the very
reason that CoHousers need to persevere.  Pioneering work ain't easy, but
it is essential.  The tribal view of caring for the grandchildren of one's
own grandchildren is the mind-set I hope we CoHousers bring to our own but
also to the awareness of the culture around us.

Grace Von Tobel
Kennebec Valley CoHousing (KVCH)
Kennebec County, Maine
gkvontob [at]

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