Re: low/mixed income cohousing
From: David L. Mandel (
Date: Thu, 11 May 95 02:21 CDT
Thanks, Don, for sparing me the effort of again describing our mixed-income 
urban cohousing project. Your piece is quite accurate (better be, after 
keeping Susan, then me, on the phone for hours :) ). I only want to add the 
following, in response to Joani Blank's remark that it takes more than 
affordability to attract low-income people, and a few replies it brought:
I think a lot depends on your attitude from the start. The fact that many of 
our households received second mortgages that enabled them to buy units 
otherwise unaffordable to them was not only a result of the city's requirement
that a proportion of our units be affordable. From the start we recognized 
that a mixed-income project clearly met the needs of our neighborhood: Solely 
low income development would be reinforcing its homogeneity; purely 
market-priced housing would be too much at odds with its character and would 
exclude most of those already living in the area. 

But most important, our early core group in fact comprised members with a wide
range of income levels. These were the people first attracted to cohousing in 
Sacramento, and it was quickly clear that if we were going to be able to do 
something together, it would have to have an element of financing to enable 
low-income people to be involved. We considered including some rentals, 
debated doing a limited equity co-op (I was actually in the minority that 
favored that) and eventually settled on the plan Don described (our choices 
were narrowed by the housing agency's much greater willingness to lend money 
than to grant it). 

The main point of this is that since our commitment to affordability was clear
from the start, low-income people felt comfortable joining and participating. 
None of those who became highly active was excluded for lack of financing; 
four of the 11 households that received subsidized loans were involved very 
early on, and others joined well before the very end.

David Mandel, Southside Park Cohousing, Sacramento

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