More-equal advertising
From: biow (biowcs.UMD.EDU)
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 95 15:37 CST
>Chris Biow said:

>>Rob Sandelin followed up:

>>>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.

>>Rob, I know you didn't really mean what you said.

>I did mean what I said. If you want specific sets of humanity, whether 
>they be parents, elderly, religous, or ethnic, how and where you 
>adverstise will determine who calls.  It is NOT unreasonable to desire 
>a mixture of people and I have seen diversity listed as a goal of many 
>cohousing groups.  

This all depends upon context. If your goal is diversity and you 
advertise in diverse ways, then there is certainly nothing wrong 
with any one ad in a medium that fails to cover a Fair Housing 
protected class (race, color, religion, national origin, sex, 
familial status, handicapped status, per Civil Rights Act 1968 as 
amended 1988). However, if your advertisements were exclusively 
or disproportionately in such media, and you had expressed the 
intention of using this tactic to fill a coho development 
primarily with, say, families with children, I believe this would 
constitute "discriminatory advertising". It could certainly earn 
you a ruinous government investigation.

It was in just such a context that this question arose: a netter, 
whose attribution I have lost, was told by a builder that he 
would be violating Fair Housing laws if he specifically tried to 
develop a cohousing community of families with children. Using 
advertising as a way of achieving this goal does not get around 
the law--it just compounds the violation.

>Most other types of intentional communities have 
>very strict reviews about who becomes members and have very specific 
>criteria that prospective members must adhere by (in my experience this 
>seems to be true more of religous communities than others).

For good reason--see below.

>  For 
>example, a local religous commune requires members to have had a 
>certain religous experience before they can join as members.

The only way this sort of discrimination can be legal is if the 
housing does *not* meet any of the following criteria:

1. Single Family housing owned by private individuals when (1) a 
broker or similar professional is used to sell the housing or (2) 
discriminatory advertising is used.
2. Single Family housing not owned by private individuals.
3. Single Family housing owned as non-owner-occupied investment 
rental property [exact rules are complex]
4. Multifamily dwellings of five or more units.
5. Multifamily dwellings that are not owner-occupied.

Exceptions to the above are for dwellings owned or operated by a 
religion for non-commercial purposes, leased to members of that 
religion, provided that membership in the religion is not 
restricted by race, color, or national origin; private non-
commercial clubs; and housing for the elderly with a minimum age 
requirement of 55 or 62, that meet certain HUD guidelines.

As applied to non-religious cohousing, we could only claim 
exemption from Fair Housing rules if we are single family housing 
(which we are, in some cases) with condominium or PUD ownership; 
we don't use real estate brokers; and we don't use discriminatory 
advertising. This may provide enough of a loophole for some 
cohousing, but only if we don't advertise in a manner that the 
local HUD office might construe as discriminatory. If we mostly 
limit our applicants to families with children and advertise 
disproportionately in parents' magazines, we are setting 
ourselves up for a fall.

>Diversity of race is something which Cohousing groups often wish for 
>and do not find.  One way of acheving this is to target advertising to 
>those you want to attract.  There are actually advertising agencies 
>which have specialists in how to work with target markets, such as the 
>elderly, etc.

No problem here--so long as you are using your selective 
advertising to encourage diversity, you are probably in 
compliance with the law. I agree that cohousing should provide a 
means to achieve greater diversity, especially in age. 

<drags out soapbox>
<steps up>

Our current practice of throwing the elderly away in retirement 
homes is descructive, IMHO, depriving the elderly of useful lives 
and the young of exposure to a generation other than their 
parents. We put far too much effort into packing people in our 
society into tightly defined age groups, creating an unnatural 
segregation in which the worst characteristics of each age group 
become exaggerated. I can see cohousing really making a 
difference here. An elderly person who needs only limited 
assistance in living should easily find it in cohousing, 
returning the favor by providing wisdom, entertainment, and 
advice to the youngsters.

However, I suspect that cohousing will do only a little better 
than housing in general in other areas, such as mixing races, 
economic classes, or ethnic groups. The hard dollar reasons that 
this segregation has persisted will not be overcome by anything 
that I see cohousing able to do, unless someone comes up with a 
*big* pot of money.
Chris Biow

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