From: porcupin (
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 04:50:00 -0600
A quick warning about subsidies. While best intentions should be
respected subsidies that are applied to buildings rather than the needs
of potential ocupants are easily turned amiss.

At Valley Oaks Village in Chico CA the common costs of the project were
split according to a complicated formula that charged larger houses
more.  Ownership of common properties however was divided equally.  This
formula was devised by the original seven members/families very early in
the planning process.

Those seven families purchased seven subsidized units and one penalized
unit. (One couple divorced and bought two houses) Over $58,000 of costs
were transferred for the project as a whole.  The result of all this
subsidy?  The majority of the subsidized homes were highly customized
with several having special pads poured so they could lay some very
expensive adobe flooring.  

I believe that if subsidies are desired by cohousing communities they
should look to subsidizing qualified buyers with low interest loans
payable to the homeowners assosiation or some similiar system. This is a
tried and tested technique used by many small towns like my own to
provide low-income housing without actually building it.

Subsidizing the buildings can mean that you end up buying toys for
childless professionals.  Removing housing from market pricing forces
new buyers to go through a popularity contest in order to get pass the
sellers or communities hoops.  These last two concepts may build ugly
resentments among the community that surface later in other venues. It
might be best to avoid them.

John Poteet
Valley Oaks Village
Chico CA

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