RE: covering startup and infrastructure costs
From: Mac & Sandy Thomson (
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 09:12:03 -0500
This is one of two posts that I sent out last week that may not have
been distributed to folks subscribing to the list in digest mode.  I'm
resending them and apologize to those of you who have already received


> It would be very helpful for us at Cedar Hill to find out how others
> covered their startup and infrastructure costs, particularly before most
> residents were on board.

At Heartwood Cohousing (formerly San Juan Cohousing), we required that
new members pay in a non-refundable deposit of $6000.  This deposit not
only helped to lock in a member's commitment, it also provided some of
that seed capital to pay for up front costs (legal, engineering,
marketing, etc.).  As a reward for this early investment, we offered
"equity credits", which were basically a promised future discount on
their eventual lot purchase.  Our equity credits ranged from $5000 to
$1000 depending on when the members joined (earlier joining = greater
risk = greater equity credit).

A full description of our equity credits plan can be found at our
website in our Membership Incentives agreement (see my signature below
for a link).  I invite you to check out any of our agreements on various
issues from how we run our meetings to how we finance our project.  We
believe in sharing the ideas we've stolen from others!  We got the idea
for equity credits from Harmony Village during a national conference
about 5 years ago.

We also got some financing for start up costs from a core member who
loaned the group the money and was paid back with interest once we we
had enough $6000 member deposits.  We've tried to price all of our
member loans through the years at basically market rate, although we
have been able to structure the loans in some pretty creative ways
because of the high level of trust the members have in the community.  

I don't think that you'd be able to get a bank loan for those early
start up costs -- too much risk for those banker folks.

I hope this is somewhat helpful,
           Mac & Sandy Thomson           Heartwood Cohousing
           ganesh [at]                Durango, Colorado
        Web Site:

"Nobody cares if you can't dance well.  Just get up and dance."
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