|Re: Re: low/mixed income cohousing||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Lynne Farnum (lfburrhus.harvard.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 10 May 95 10:30 CDT|
Joani raises the interesting question of whether low-income people would be attracted to cohousing groups even if there were some affordable units. The terms "low-income" and "affordable" are subject to a wide variety of interpretations. Low-income may include the working poor, who have steady work but are barely scraping by in terms of meeting their family's basic needs; or it may be taken to mean only the desperately poor, unemployed or welfare dependent, living in substandard housing in scary neighborhoods. Affordable is sometimes legally defined as costing 80% of the median price of housing in a given geographical area, but around Boston that could be close to $200,000; certainly not something than low-income people can "afford" in the usual sense of the word. In our local cohousing scene, there are many interested people who I would consider low-income: retirees; recent graduates with huge loans to pay off; single parents with modest incomes and high child care costs; social service workers whose jobs are fulfilling but pay very little. Many folks like these love the idea of cohousing but couldn't come up with a down payment even if they could handle a mortgage. If we could build some units they could afford, they would not only join but would be among the most committed members. (Often the very same ideals that make someone attracted to coho also lead to employment choices that don't yield big bucks.) On the other hand, it is unlikely that a predominantly white, coho community, perceived as either suburban or yuppie, is going to attract poor minority families from the inner city. There are a number of reasons, but the overwhelming one would be that no one is eager to share huge financial and emotional risks with people they feel nothing in common with. Why should they? It comes down to cultural similarities/differences. People like those I mentioned in the preceding paragraph can have low incomes (around here under $20,000 is low) but feel perfectly comfortable with two-career families that make $100,000-- because they share a fundamentally middle class background, educational level, and values. Lynne Farnum
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