cohousing comments
From: Scott Cowley (scowleyalexandria.lib.utah.edu)
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 11:27:49 -0500
Hi, Donna L. McDaniel.

I'm Scott Cowley from Wasatch CoHousing in Salt Lake City.
We are about 1/4 of the way through our design phase, have land, and have
included some affordability components in our project.

This "movement" is very definitely white middle class.  (See the spring '95
edition of the CoHousing Journal for an indepth discussion.)  But I think it is
very important to keep the issue of class at the forefront in the movement.
Many of us would also like very much to increase the diversity and guard
against the corruption of those who are only self-serving.  Unfortunately
the market for housing across the U.S. is a killer, and land access for our area
is almost gone.  Urban retrofit ought to be a big subject in the future.

As an organizer I face the classic problem of low-income advocacy:  poor people
don't have the time or money to take big risks.  So systemic support is 
crucial.  We need revolving community loan funds, administrative support,
and experienced architects, builders, materials consultants, and project finance
managers so that a system is in place and we don't have to always rely on
pioneer-types and waste time and money on re-inventing the process.  We'd
like to focus on the community-building part.
But there is great danger in implementing a capitalist infrastructure with all 
the short-term self-centered motives probable in that.  Northern Europe seems
to have more fundamentally community-based models.

We have  wonderful second-tier governmental bureaucrats here. 
Unfortunately our top bureaucrats aren't so hot here in Utah.
But the second tier  has put together a neat rent-to-own program which we
are ideally suited for.  They put up the capital for 5 of our homes, a city 
grant
helps with the land costs, and we rent out the homes for 15 years at subsidized
rates.  After 15 years we are free to sell the homes and return any profits to 
the
agency.  Hopefully by then the renters will have gotten on their feet and can
afford the down payment.  We are free to do the rental screening within EOC 
laws.
So we will select those interested in community and welcome them as equal
participants.  The package provides on-site rental management, a community
support system, capital up front, and hopefully some more diversity.


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