The $200,000 invisible wall
From: Rob Sandelin (Floriferousclassic.msn.com)
Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 20:13:52 -0500
It costs $200,000 on average, to buy a house at Sharingwood. Last 3 resales 
were $190K, $325K, $240K. This forms an income wall that obviously excludes 
anyone of lesser means. Granted, we have some rental spaces so there are a few 
opportunities to live here as a renter. You can of course build a home here 
much less expensively than that, but once built, the homes sell at the full 
market rate, thus continuing the trend. Nobody has yet built anything small 
and inexpensive, and I see little interest in the current crop of lot owners 
to do so.

One of the tragedies of Sharingwood is that although we could have a vibrant 
mixture of housing types, we do not, we mostly have typical, three bedroom 
homes, none of which are very affordable. Particularly on resale. 

Several people who originally wanted to build less expensive homes in our 
second phase have left and so I suspect little change will come in the next 12 
homes. The house plans that have been proposed so far maintain the status quo.

We do have 1 alternative home here, an artist-traveller type who was an 
original member, and who lives in a shack, who recycles wood and lives very 
simply and cheaply. But he is pretty marginalized and the upper middle class 
people in the community really are not very comfortable with him or his 
housing scene. There is very much a strong but invisable push to not allow 
alternative, small structures here, we ran off people who wanted to build a 
dome. Mention a Yurt and the middle class uncomfortableness begins to show. 

With  bank mortgages, home equity values, and County inspectors, we play the 
middle class home game to the rules that we are given. And the large, 
expensive homes that have been built attracts people who want a nice 
comfortable middle class haven, and filters out alternative and low income 
types.  

So we have built a $200,000 wall of middle classism around ourselves, keeping 
out any others who don't have lots of money. Of course this is NOT unique to 
Sharingwood, in fact, almost all cohousing units require incomes of $60,000 or 
greater to purchase the mortgage.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood
Cedar Village Permaculture Retreat Center (forming)

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