Re: Habitat Co-housing
From: C2pattee (
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 08:40:48 -0600 (MDT)
Dear Robin,

How long have you been involved with Habitat for Humanity?  It sounds like 
you come first from a cohousing perspective.  Each Habitat affiliate does its 
own building program, but all are affiliated with HFH International, based in 
Americus GA, And must adhere to the same basic policies.  Where is Aachua?  
If it is not in the US, my comments would have little relevance, because from 
what I've observed, Habitat projects in other countries are done very 
differently, often in groups of households that might be able to work on the 
cohousing model.

I've been involved with the Hartford Area Habitat For Humanity for over ten 
years, and we have shelves of policies, as does the main office in Americus, 
but they would do you little good, because they have to be put into practice. 
 HAHFH works very closely with homeowners, from the first orientation until 
at least a year after they move into their homes, because these are working 
poor folks who have previously operated in a renter's mode.  They are placed 
in houses as they enter the program, and as specific sites become available, 
with little opportunity to match compatible neighbors.  We have found that 
they are looking for affordable safe housing, and putting time and energy 
into building community with their neighbors is nowhere on their priority 

I realize this comes across as blunt and maybe harsh, but I'm trying to give 
you an honest picture of our experience here in Hartford Connecticut, where 
we have built over 60 houses, and are considered a very successful chapter.  
Frankly, I don't think there is anything wrong with Habitat homeowners just 
wanting decent, safe, affordable housing.  Nor do I think there is anything 
wrong with liberal minded, middle class folks like me (Defensiveness here? 
Nah!) Feeling good about spending our Saturdays building and occasional 
weekdays fundraising so that other folks can have access to that housing.  
The building part is fun, but the burnout part comes when a home owner - whom 
I have worked with and gotten to like - loses their home because they stop 
paying for it.

It's important to understand how home purchasing works in the Habitat 
program, which might be incompatible with the cohousing model.  Homeowners do 
buy their homes, here in Hartford with a 20 year, no interest morgage and a 
$500 downpayment on a $50,000 home.(details may vary by affiliate).  They 
must do up to 400 hours of 'sweat equity' in the building process.  
Affiliates may accept government donated land, but are prohibited by HFH 
International rules from accepting any government funds.  We raise the money 
to build houses from individual donors and corporate sponsors, and try to get 
as much donated building material as possible.  In general, we figure that 
the houses we sell for $50,000 would cost $80,000 on the open market (if 
there were any open market for homes in Hartford, but that's another story).  
The difference is accounted for by donated materials and volunteer labor (we 
do pay licensed trades like foundation, electrical and plumbing).  Obviously, 
upfront construction money comes from the organization, not the homebuyer.

In a message dated 6/1/00 1:05:09 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ranrg [at] 

> residents lack of motivation to complete duties of association in 
> situation
>  Ms. Pattee,
>  The Alachua Habitat affiliate is about to undertake a co-housing project 
> I would 
>  appreciate some insight.
>  Were the residents made completely aware of what would be required of them 
> as members of the association before they started the partnership with 
> habitat, well before they moved in ?
>  Would it be possible to get a copy of your association's CC&Rs (policies) ?
>  Robin Grunwald
>  Sustainable Community Planner
>  Alachua Habitat For Humanity
>  ranrg [at]

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