Re: apartment conversion to cohousing
From: Tree Bressen (treeic.org)
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 17:24:01 -0800 (PST)
Dear Mary Anne,

Hi has anyone done this? Are there pitfalls? We are talking about this in our East Portland Cohousing Group.We are having some ethical questions aobut displacing renters. Are there ways to mitigate this displacement? Anhy other ideas thoughts are welcome Thanks Mary Anne Joyce

Los Angeles Eco-Village did this. They chose not to force out any residents, choosing instead a slow conversion process over time. That was over a decade ago and there are still a few original renters left, i think mostly elderly folks on fixed incomes.

As far as i know that part has gone ok, what's been much more challenging was having people who moved there intending to be part of the community and then withdrew from participation without moving out. That has dragged down the energy of the community and held up spaces that could otherwise have gone to new participants with energy to contribute. At their last retreat the group agreed to change this, i'm not sure how the implementation of that has gone so far.

As far as i know this has all happened in a rental model, it's not cohousing and i don't think residents build equity in their units. Also there is not a common kitchen, or regular meals beyond potlucks, or even a room with enough space to seat all the residents comfortably for meetings or meals. If you want to talk with them i bet they'd be happy to share their experience.

See good description at the main IC website: http://directory.ic.org/records/?action=view&page=view&record_id=1970

See the LAEV website:  http://www2.ic.org/laev/

The Community Alternatives apartment building in Vancouver, BC, which was built from the ground up as community housing, has more common facilities as i recall. So that would be a major thing to keep in mind if you are converting an apartment building, is how are you going to get sufficient common space, are there any BIG open rooms you can use or create--one regular-sized apartment is usually insufficient and cramped. The East Blair Co-op in Eugene (which is multi-building) finally built a common room recently after 20 years.

You might also check with the Apex in Seattle to see what their situation was when they started, were there other residents who were displaced and if so how was the transition handled. Again Apex is a limited equity cooperative, not cohousing. Website: http://www.speakeasy.org/~apex/.

Good luck!

--Tree



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