Foundation/Agency Funding
From: David Mandel (
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 02:19:47 -0600
Joani Blank wrote in response to Marti Major's query:

>1) Southside Park CoHousing received a loan from the Northern California
>Community Loan Fund. I believe it was used to upgrade the kitchens (and
>bathrooms?) in their 11 affordable units, so that they are indistinguishable
>from those in the market rate units.

Partly true. We received a $75,000 loan from the NCCLF, at market rate for
construction loans at the time (8%). Not a big deal in our overall
financing, though it did come at a crucial time during construction when we
needed the cash flow. The use was for general financing purposes, not
upgrading kitchens and bathrooms in the affordable units, though
indirectly, I suppose, it helped with that. Some of the low-income members
were unable to meet the target household investment levels we set, and th
NCCLF money helped make up for that. This one one of the reasons we gave in
the application for the money as well. So having the extra liquidity helped
enable the low-income members finance certain upgrades from our list of
options without putting in all the cash up front. The cost was ultimately
financed through their mortgages.

Much more significant financially for our low-income affordability was
$795,000 in no-interest loans from the local housing agency. Included in
this figure was the $415,000 price of the land, which was not actually ever
paid but was divided among the 11 lower-income households as silent second

Joani also wrote to Marti of Salt Lake:

>I don't understand why you are considering a separate mortgage for your
>common house. In the condominium form of ownership, each household/owner
>owns what is called an "undivided share" of the common facilities. ...

Not necessarily true. In some condominiums (most typically in PUDs, the
condo's closely related cousin in which residents also own their walls and
the land their units sit on, plus perhaps a small surrounding lot), a
separate entity, usually the homeowner association, owns the common areas,
which are a separate mapped parcel. In such a set-up a separate mortgage
could be possible, with the payments for it assessed as part of each
owner's association dues.

Marti's original question concerned obtaining some foundation or government
money for the common house. Doing so might well require separate financing
and thus separate ownership as described in the previous paragraph.

As I wrote yesterday in a private note to Marti, a group interested in
seeking such a grant would have to find some selling point, some function
that the common house would serve for the broader community, not just the
private enjoyment of the cohousing members. If it were in part a community
center, a child care center, a neighborhood health care clinic or something
of that sort, then I could imagine attracting such subsidies.

But this raises the obvious question of to what extent the cohousers want
to share their common house with the general public. It may be acceptable
if there are clear boundaries, in time and/or space, for the shared use. We
considered it briefly and then rejected the idea, to a large extent because
our site is so compact and perhaps also because our neighborhood, as much
as we love it and seek to be among its activists, is a quite tough one.

I know the Arcata (Marsh Commons) common house also includes retail space
rented to outsiders. Not exactly the same thing, but it has some common
threads and it will be interesting to see whether it interferes at all with
the residents' feeling at home in their common house.

David Mandel, Southside Park, Sacramento

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