RE: CoHousing and Descrimination: Call 4 Experiences
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 95 14:37 CST
I do know that at least one group in my area did in fact discriminate 
against people without children by "restricting" memberships to people 
who had kids.  No lawsuits were filed but I did get an earful from a 
person who was "declined" an associate membership because she was 
single and gay.  I don't think the gay part was the issue, it was that 
she wouldn't have kids and the group wanted families with kids to buy 
the last of the associate memberships.  She didn't see it that way.

This kind of selective recruitment goes on frequently in cohousing and 
one issue of very big controversy at various times in my own community 
is that we have no real means of selecting who we want to live with.  
If Rush Limbaugh wanted to buy a Sharingwood lot, then although many 
people in my group would not ever want to live with Rush Limbaugh, we 
would have to take his money and sell him a lot.

Before I joined Sharingwood someone actually gave money who was later 
deemed unsuitable by the core group and his money was simply returned 
by the owner of the property.  I gather that the feeling was mutual and 
so no problems happened but what if it had not been?

One way to select membership from a particular set of humanity is to 
advertise in ways which will attract the set you are looking for.  For 
example, if you are looking for families with kids, then advertise in 
parenting magazines and such.  Our local baby diaper service has a 
newspaper on parenting which accepts advertising.

Although membership is "self-selecting" I often wonder if that is 
really true.  The way your recruiters approach people, what they tell 
them, how much information they share, etc. will all reflect on the 
picture of who wants to join.  For example a person who is doing a tour 
or recruitment pitch could make a sexist comment about women and 
instantly turn off all the women in the crowd.  Any given presenter 
will affect the pitch by their personality, their age, their sex, their 
general appearance and demeanor, how they handle questions, 
friendliness, etc. etc.

It is probably a good idea to have a mixed pair, man and woman do your 
recruitment pitches together.  For example market research shows that 
one factor in personal communication in selling is how much the seller 
is like you. For example,  females respond differently to male 
presenters than female presenters.  Kids respond to kids in a very 
different way than they do to adults.  Also having two people give 
presentations allows for people to hear two differing perspectives.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood - that melting pot of middle-class white liberals.

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.