|Cohousing ,Class distinctions and banks||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (floriferousemail.msn.com)|
|Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2000 10:19:06 -0700 (MST)|
Steven wrote about economics and class. My purpose is to pin it a bit closer to cohousing. One of the definition points of cohousing is home ownership. There are not any rental or non-owner cohousing communities that I am aware of. Some cohousing communities, such as the one I live in, have rental spaces, but the rentals exist and are controlled by the home owners. Home ownership has always been a class distinction in America that separates classes. Those we call the poor do not own their home. Most folks in the lower middle class do no own their homes. At some point in the middle of the middle class, the percentage of home ownership rises above the median point and all the upper classes own their homes. Owning ones home is the sign that you are in a different class. This of course is nonsense, but this notion is deeply imprinted upon the American pysche that home ownership is a sign of success. Actually banks own most homes, and the banks determine whether you are the right class to own a home. There are all kinds of social programs run by governments to create situations, usually subsidies or guarentees, where banks will accept people they normally would not. However, 90% of these programs just move the line among the middle class. You have to make enough money to be in the lower middle class in order to even get into any of these. But the true holder of the cards here are the banks who determine whether or not they will give you a mortgage based on factors they have determined to be in their best interests. And speaking of interest, interest payments is their reason for being involved in housing at all. Look at a typical 30 year mortgage, and you will see that for the first 10 years you pay an overwhelming amount of money to the bank in interest compared to what you pay on your principle. Since the average person moves every 7 years, and then starts a new mortgage, you can see how this benefits the banks. So cohousing membership is at one level, determined by the bank(s) which provide your project with mortgages. A great person, a wonderful community member can and will be rejected by the bank if they don't have the right credentials to buy a mortgage. Banks also determine some of the structural elements that you can build, if your project falls too far outside their models, they will not fund your project assuming there are other opportunities for them to make money doing something safer. This is why non-traditional materials such as straw bale, cobb, etc have not, and are unlikely to, be used in bank funded, capital project communities such as cohousing. There are many other kinds of communities, which do not have home ownership as part of their definition. If you find yourself interested in community, but not able to own a home, I would suggest investigating these other opportunities. The new Communities directory comes out in a couple months and there are hundreds of communities listed at www.ic.org. There are some absolutely wonderful and incredable places to be in community with folks that don't cost any buy in, or just a small buy in. I know several places looking for members in NW that are not cohousing, and need energy. There are lots of cohousing groups which try to do some mediation for lower income first time home owners. It is in my observation common at first for forming groups to pay some lip service to this idea. Many do not follow through with the processes needed to accomplish this and so drop the idea once they own a site, thus abandoning, however painfully, those members who were depending upon it. This is not some evil plot, just the reality of being a developer. Once you own a site, usually your timeline changes to a specific length to get loans, permits, etc. The energy of the group goes into all the other aspects of developing, and the affordable grants, loan programs and such don't get any energy, thus they are not initated. There are groups that did follow through, and so it can be done, its just another hard thing to add to an already very difficult process. More than one group has gone bust when getting to looking for a site because they found they had no real assets or ability to be land buyers. Like I said, cohousing is not the only game in town. Community is there for people who want it, whether you are bank certified or not. Its now the new mellenium, what are you waiting for? Rob Sandelin Northwest Intentional Communties Association Building a better society, one neighborhood at a time
- Cohousing ,Class distinctions and banks Rob Sandelin, January 9 2000
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