Re: Affordable Unites Lotteries
From: Joani Blank (
Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 03:37:01 -0600 (MDT)
As usual, Liz (quoted below) has wise words. But it's not always just a matter of getting the city to agree to let you prequalify individual households before they are allowed to buy. Affordable housing restrictions also require (as I understand it) not only that the housing be built before it is even offered for sale or rent, meaning that the households who are eventually going to move in cannot participate in the design process and cannot be a part of the community building processes that go on before construction is complete.

A lottery is indeed a fair way to assure that no one is discriminated against, or that no one has an unfair advantage because they know the someone who works at the housing authority, or because they are a particular color, or.......

I think what would be fair and still let lower income households into cohousing would be to let the pool of possible residents know what is involved in living in cohousing (including the fact that they have to be willing and able to devote some time and energy to the process of getting it built). Then all those still interested could be prequalified based not only on their financial situation, but also on their willingness to agree to some minimal standards of participation. Then, among those still remaining as interested, there could be a lottery which would assure no discrimination.

Joani Blank
Swan's Market Cohousing
Oakland, CA

I would strongly discourage that method of selling the affordable units. See
if you can make a deal with the city that your group will pre-qualify the
buyers of those units. the history of people getting into cohousing just for
the affordability is not good-it's dismal, in fact. We had one person who
caused us much grief before moving out. If we had had ten of them, we would
not have survived as a cohousing community.

Try to explain the nature of cohousing to the city and see if there's
someone sympathetic to your plans for cohousing. Let them know that there is
a poor history of success where price is the only motivation. Maybe you can
get someone to listen.

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