RE: House Pricing in House Selection Process
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 94 11:22 CDT
Mike Adams  wrote:

>Allocating  resources ( like housing ) by price is efficient only if 
money can act as
>a proxy for the utility that someone will get from what is bought.  But
>if in the same community you have families with four children living in
>two bedroom units because that is what they can afford, and childless
>couples living in four bedroom units, I think that it can effect the
>dynamics of the community.

My experience differs. One of my neighbors at Sharingwood is a 
millionaire.  Another neighbor is barely making ends meet working two 
jobs.  The millionaires house is large and fancy, my other neighbors 
house is modest.  Both are happy, both like each other and the 
community. Both are equally valuable to the community.   Income 
diversity has no negative effects at Sharingwood that have been able to 
discern in my three years of living there.  One of the ways we deal 
with it is that often projects come up which we could assess out to the 
whole membership, such as our playground or basketball hoop or when we 
bought our chipper.  Instead we first solicit donations and pledges and 
this usually suffices.  Does this mean that some people put in lots of 
money and others put in none? Yep. Does this cause a problem? Nope. Why 
not? Because it's voluntary.  When we choose to look for donations 
first we do so in order to let people contribute in the ways that best 
meets their needs. Its OK not to give if that causes problems and we 
reinforce that.  I read with interest Jeans posting where the Nyland 
group didn't make loans to their members. We have been doing that for 
years.  When we had a large assessment, like to pave the road ($2,500 
each) that assessment was paid by borrowing money from the commonhouse 
account and members who couldn't cover that cost were loaned money 
which they repaid as they could. (We did charge a little interest).

We are funding the first phase of our commonhouse with voluntary loans 
from the existing membership. An assessment of $2,000 was charged to 
everyone and some people have loaned as much as $25,000 to the 
community with no guarantee of payback.  Why? Because they want to. And 
because they can.  There is no stigma attached in anyway to not giving 
and no expectations set.  Some people have volunteered to give 100 
hours of time and a bunch of money also.  We have created a place where 
people can freely give donations to the community.  We wanted a 
basketball hoop and so somebody went and bought one. I have donated 
maybe $500 since I have lived at Sharingwood to buy things we need, fix 
the community lawnmower, buy a sack of wildflower mix, do a large 
mailing and bought the stamps.  Since our monthly assessments are so 
low ($38) I feel I can afford to make donations now and then and our 
system encourages people to give.  The community also gives back. I was 
not able to afford to go to the conference in Boulder.  At  the last 
general meeting, which I missed,  the whole group approved expenditure 
of funds so I could. I didn't even ask or know that it was on the 
agenda - the group saw the opportunity, recognized the need, and made it so.

On the other hand I know of other groups who insist on absolute equity 
in everything. Everyone must do the same amount of work, pay the same 
amount of money, share the same value houses.  Does that work? Seems 
to.  I wonder how much people donate in communities which have this set 
up? It would seem to me that since equity and fairness are such 
concerns it would stifle peoples ability to give money. Maybe not.  I 
am glad we have the system we do. It works for us and gets the job 
done, albeit slowly.

Rob Sandelin

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