Fair Housing as Applied to Cohousing
From: Munn Heydorn (munninteraccess.com)
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 95 23:48 CST
On Mon, 23 Jan 95 11:34:35 PST, Rob Sandelin <robsan [at] microsoft.com> 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.  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 
>example, a local religous commune requires members to have had a 
>certain religous experience before they can join as members.
>If a group decides it really  wants <ethnic or other type of humanity 
>here> then it will advertise in places where <ethnic or other type of 
>humanity here> will find out about it. In the Seattle area there is a 
>group of mennonites who are forming their own cohousing sort of living 
>arrangement. Non-mennonites are not invited.   


I really don't know if special rules regarding fair housing laws (Hereafter 
"FH") apply to either cohousing in general (which I strongly doubt) or to 
religious communities such as the Mennonites' cohousing (which I don't know 
but seems more possible).  To target families with children may be okay 
under FH since families without kids and singles are not protected classes 
under FH.  Targeting certain groups to the exclusion of others, however, if 
those others are a protected class under FH (religion, race, country of 
origin, disability, etc.), clearly would be a violation if done by a 
developer.  I suspect that the same rules apply to a group of people calling 
themselves the ABC Cohousing Group (Anyone wanting to appropriate this 
clever name is welcome to it) since they would appear collectively to the 
outside world to be a "developer".  

Not long ago, there was a lawsuit in the Chicago area by fair housing 
nonprofits against a number of home builders who, in their advertising 
consistantly and exclusively used white models.  The builders lost 
(technically, they may have settled) the suit, as I understand it, based 
pretty much on just that fact.  In fact, part of the penalty exacted was the 
financing of a brochure on FH advertising by the developers. 

Has anyone specifically looked into or researched FH as it applies to 
cohousing or other intentional communities?


Munn Heydorn, Winfield, IL
munn [at] interaccess.com

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