Re: Diversity - economic and ethnic/racial [was: Re: Resale Policy
From: Howard Landman (howardpolyamory.org)
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 13:11:00 -0700 (MST)
Jennifer wrote:
> As for ethnic diversity - same goes. According to all sorts of research,
> WHITE people are the ones least willing to live with people not defined as
> white.

Even if I don't disagree, it should be sufficient to simply be
non-discriminatory.  But you favor affirmative action, which is reverse
discrimination, not lack of discrimination.  I think that requires quite
serious justification, and I have yet to see any such justification in
a cohousing context.  I believe that one should not discriminate based
on race, or color.  You apparently believe that it's OK to do so as long
as the discrimination is pointed in the direction you like.  Gee - so
does the KKK.  They just disagree about the preferred direction.

(Before we launch into a huge discussion of affirmative action,
I will state that I *DO* believe that much of the AA of the 1960's
was justified as an attempt to compensate for a century of legalized,
government-supported racial discrimination.  So I'm not totally opposed
to it.  I just think that there needs to be a damn good reason to
stray from policies that are utterly color-blind.)

> If you live in a household that makes
> over about $85,000 you are in the top 12 percent of the nations earners.
> Fact. So, co-housing tends to already have wealthier people.

I must be missing something.  The last sentence above does not follow
from the first one without making some additional assumptions.  Are you
claiming that the average income of a cohousing household is over $85K
per year?  That would surprise me.

> in most co- housing that i've looked at, read about, etc. "wealthier"
> people already abundantly exist.

Delete the "co-" and that sentence is still probably true, if by being
"in" housing we mean owning and not renting.

I recently realized that, from a cash-flow perspective, any brand new
condominium situation (which is how most cohousing is structured) is far
more expensive than traditional housing.  (The cash-flow perspective
has its limitations, of course, since it's rather skimpy on long-term
planning.  But that's how many people live their entire lives,
especially in the lower income brackets.)

The reason is that, in traditional housing, you have to buy your house,
but then you don't have to pay for repairs until they're actually
necessary.  In a condo, you're required by law to not only buy your unit
(which for most people means getting a mortgage), but ALSO to pay AHEAD OF
TIME to reserve for major repairs in the future.  In effect, you're having
to buy two houses at once, the present one and the future (repaired) one.

Of course, some costs such as land aren't duplicated, so it's not QUITE
as bad as buying two houses at once.  Maybe it's more like 1.5 instead
of 2.

Still, for someone who has limited resources, this disparity means
that it will always appear cheaper to go the traditional route than
to join a new condo (coho or not).  This penalty goes away over
time, so that a mature condo should probably be spending about as much
on repairs as they collect for reserves.  That's why I emphasized
"new", that is, less than 10 or 20 years old.

But given the extra burden of reserves, it may be that any new condo
(including cohousing structured as such) is a fundamentally bad idea
for a family which has cash flow problems.  From this viewpoint, trying
to encourage such people to join a new condo (of any kind) could seem
a little bit perverse and sadistic.

This is one reason why the attitude typified by Jennifer, which I find
nearly universal among cohousers, feels a bit strange to me.

        Howard A. Landman
        River Rock Commons
        Fort Collins, CO
        (where we are going through the annual budget process
         and slowly understanding why dues are so high)
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