Re: economic diversity and the rich, plus: new group starting!
From: Woods-Eliot (
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2002 18:36:01 -0600 (MDT)
Robert wrote:

I recall several people mentioning that there was a shortage of rich people in cohousing.

I can't think of a better way to scare off rich people than to tell them:
"We're starting a community based on sharing. Oh, and, by the way, some of us can't
afford to pay for our portion.  Wanna join?."

This encapsulates what has most troubled me about this thread: the assumption that the "poor" are asking the "rich" to pay for their basic living expenses.

I'm guessing that in actuality, the "poor" can make their rent or mortgage payment, and that the community contribution under discussion is the condo fee that must be paid. The amount due is based on what the community wants that fund to pay for. As a low-income person, I would propose keeping condo fees low and services that the community pays for at a minimum (no $50/mo recycling bill, no professional landscapers, etc.) whereas people with more means may want more. Why not have an exercise room, Olympic pool, hot tub, etc. -- if one household can pay for "their share" if these fabulous amenities, why can't we all? Well, those things are not basic living expenses, and if only the richer members actually pay for them, the poorer members still can't be accused of not "pay(ing) for our portion."

I am joining a start-up community here in Portland, Oregon. I'd like to see us do a lot-development retrofit, by which I mean that we identify a neighborhood that has a wide range of housing units and types available (we are looking at existing city neighborhoods, close to downtown Portland) and as individuals/families/households, live as near to each other as possible. When houses or apartment buildings close to the commonhouse are for sale or for rent, this will give a household the opportunity to move closer in. I would like to apply the new-development idea of getting a common house first, start community meetings, potlucks, and dinners on site as soon as possible. Maybe it's pie-in-the-sky, but I think that if we have ten households who can contribute an average of $100 per month, we can rent a house and get the ball rolling. I already know of several city neighborhoods which would provide an adequate mix of housing to meet the needs of those who can only spend about $500/mo on rent to those who would like to buy for up to about $300,000. Members would also be free to share a house or rent out a room, of course. I think we can provide for a great diversity in members' means this way. BUT -- what if the rich people want a "nicer" common house? Hmm, wouldn't it be great to have that problem!

By the way, the current name of our group is INH Cohousing, for Insert Name Here. Here's a website: You'll notice that Brian's vision is a little different from mine! Oh well, we're having a meeting (my FIRST! break out the champagne!) next weekend.

(a broke yuppie-wanna-be in Portland, Oregon)

The Woods-Eliots
Portland, Oregon, USA
eliot [at]
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