Covering startup costs
From: Joani Blank (
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 01:03:42 -0500
I agree with much of what Rob says  except that  I don't think $10 per
month even if you have 15 households--an unlikely number in any event--is
enough to pay for a group's needs in the group-building early stages.  In
additions to the straight marketing stuff, you may well want to pay Katie
and Chuck or Chris or Rob or Zev to come to wherever you are to give a
promotional slide show or a talk for potential new members, or a seminar or
training session for your group. f You may also need legal advice to set up
a partnership or LLC, and other professional support, which will cost money
but save you money and headaches in the future.

Also, I believe that usually it is not a good idea to wait until time for
the significant equity investment to find out which households are not
going to make it any farther. In Takoma Village (DC), a developer-driven
project., the early group members were reluctant to put up even $10 per
month to cover the cost of mailings, and although they were going to help
with the marketing, the developer was not  expecting any cash from them
until the time came for them to reserve their units.  Under the wise
counsel of Ann Zabaldo (hope I'm telling this story right, AZ) they decided
to put up $500 each to support their marketing,group building, and group
input efforts, The developer agreed to credit their contributions toward
their final house costs. It worked! I believe that 10 or twelve households
put their money in within the first month, and the group built up to
"almost full" at 43 units within the next six months.  

A huge benefit of doing things this way--with a $500-$1000 contribution
required for full membership--is that the group learns how to budget, gets
experience working with real group property--the pool of money-- and most
importantly that they really get a sense of ownership in the project.  A
household that cannot come up with $500 is unlikely to be able to get a
mortgage. And some families who would be great neighbors might have to drop
away at that point, as Rob suggests. But planning for, collecting,
allocating and spending the group's financial resources will give people a
sense of what "resident participation" in cohousing feels like. And
although some may realize, when this bit of rubber hits the road, that
cohousing is not really right for them, and  leave the group, others will
increase their commitment, in some cases quite dramatically. 

Joani Blank
Resident of Doyle Street Cohousing since 1992 and Old Oakland Cohousing
before 01/01/00!
(Old Oakland/Swan's Market construction is moving right along!  For more
info, see the article by me in the Spring issue of the CoHousing Journal)

Cohousing: Building A Better Society, One Neighborhood At A TIme.

Did you know we now have over 900 households living in 43 built cohousing
communities in North America?  Watch for the list in the next issue of

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