Re: Single mothers
From: Russell Mawby (russ.mawbycity.saskatoon.sk.ca)
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 12:29:02 -0500
Rather than trying to build a whole new community, a difficult, onerous task
for anyone, let alone a single mom with little time to spare, why not
consider a smaller-scale approach.  For example, four single moms could buy
a house together.  

I use this example a lot as a way of introducing the idea that we have to
start remembering that our houses have much greater roles in our lives
beyond mere shelter, or return on investment.

Buying a house together means that you can start to share your mutual
resources - share a washer and dryer, share a car or two, share a backyard,
garden, etc, rather than a landlord or condo corporation-owned "public
amenity space".  You might even decide to share a kitchen, living room, etc,
though it could just as well be a more traditional self-contained
apartment-type arrangement.  Regardless, you'll start to share your lives a
lot more than you might have imagined.

In some of the cases I've seen or heard about, one mom in effect gets a job
(with "pay" sometimes being reduced housing costs), staying home to care for
the kids while the others go out to work, go back to school, etc.  Of
course, this can be on a rotating, mutually benefical basis, as the needs fit.

The adults get to share in the equity-building that usually comes with
owning a house, and get the mutual support you were looking for.  The kids
get built in playmates, and very healthy, supportive environment to grow up in.

Among other things, I am working with a local women's shelter, and one story
that is coming out is how much the women who use the shelter really love the
environment there.  It's not just the escape from the often horrific places
they've come from, but the immensely warm and supportive environment that
comes from a whole bunch of moms and kids living together, helping each
other.  Time and time again women comment on how much they'll miss that part
of the experience as they go off to their new lives in isolated 2 bedroom
apartments scattered across the city.  But this kind of sharing is not the
norm, and no one has been encouraging these women to find ways to continue
that great experience. . .

Of course, financing a shared house has some potential difficulties, and no
one has ever suggested that sharing a home is without its, well, pitfalls,
but I have seen the benefits of making such an arrangement work.  Zoning is
another issue, but one that seems to be easy enough to overcome.

If you are interested, I might be able to offer some suggestions on working
with banks to get the financing in place and workable.  It's a new concept
in many places, but have had some success (mostly by asking the right
questions) to get them on side.  It is a discussion, rather than a program,
however, and isn't necessarily easy.  But it is worth the struggle, and, I
would guess, a lot easier than trying to finance a whole new community.

Russell Mawby                   Ph : (306) 975-7666
Housing Facilitator             Fax: (306) 975-7712
City of Saskatoon
Planning and Building Dept.             
222 - 3rd Avenue North                  
Saskatoon, SK  S7K 0J5          russ.mawby [at] city.saskatoon.sk.ca

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