RE: Affordability/diversity/housing for the poor/rich, etc.
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002 11:04:01 -0600 (MDT)
Creating a real estate  development is difficult and expensive and requires
a certain set of skills and  capital.  Creating affordable housing is
another set  of skills. Creating community, relationships and bonding, is a
different set of skills. All these things can merge together in a cohousing
development, but usually they do not. I recommend that if affordable housing
is a goal that you find an affordable housing partner in the area rather
than try to get that skill set yourself. Knowing the timelines and players
in funding are special talents that affordable housing groups are well
versed in.

It seems like most groups, when they start, find themselves a mix of people
who have a desire and vision for community, and sometimes very few have the
economic ability to be homeowners. Most these groups are hopelessly naive,
and disband within a year or two, never acquiring property. From my
experience it seems about half the cohousing groups that initially form,
fall apart within a year. Often this is because they lack capital and once
they understand that nobody is going to do this work for them for free, they
fold. I once visited a forming group that actually thought it was going to
secure a site with no money. They found out quickly that in the world of
real estate development, nobody will talk business with you unless you can
put money down.

Very rarely, does a group without significant capital achieve in creating a
development, and these groups often take years of time and  amazing personal
heroics and sacrifices. Often individuals within a group use personal
financial assets to carry members that do not have these. It would be an
interesting study to examine how often early members without capital do not
end up living in the final development.

So the truth as I see it is that, without money, community groups seldom
create anything, and certainly do not pull off multi-million dollar real
estate developments. I have met lots of people who want this not to be true.

Rob Sandelin

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