Re: "Targeting" the wealthy
From: Martin Sheehy (martinsheehyyahoo.com)
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 12:09:15 -0700 (PDT)
It would be a worthy movement indeed [ building affordable CoHousing for 
near-retirees], Jenny.
   
  Apologise for my poor choice of words. They simply reflect my frustration 
with health"care" in USA & the situation of many retirees---perhaps due to 
their own poor planning.
   
  Marty.

juniperjojo [at] aol.com wrote:
  Marty,

I'd like to suggest that you be more careful with your words. When you state 
that cohousing is "targeting" the wealthy it implies intent, which I feel 
strongly is absent in the cohousing movement.

Of our 37 households, I think it's fair to say that few to none of us is 
"wealthy." Most of us are middle-class, some barely that, and many of us are 
struggling to make ends meet, and indeed, are sacrificing in many ways in order 
to live in cohousing. I personally drive 50 miles one way to work at a job that 
pays enough money so that I can afford to live in cohousing.

I feel fairly comfortable asserting that our developers did not "target" the 
wealthy. (To be fair, they would not have turned away the wealthy, but in my 
experience it is not the "wealthy" who want to live in cohousing.) They chose 
to build a second community in Ann Arbor, Michigan because there was a high 
level of interest in cohousing in Ann Arbor, even though housing prices (and 
hence land prices) are high. Developing land costs a lot of money, and is 
risky, and someone has to bear that cost and that risk until all of the homes 
have been sold. I think that -- especially in today's real estate market -- 
it's going to be hard not to "target the wealthy" in regions of the country 
where home prices are high.

I respect your opinion and am solidly on your side in wanting to see more 
affordable housing of all kinds in this country, including and especially 
cohousing, but there are certain realities on the ground that have to be 
acknowledged, even if you feel strongly that those realities can and should be 
changed. One of the main realities is that typical contractors have no interest 
in learning new building methods or working with alternative materials, and if 
you insist that they do, they will do so, and charge you double.

If you have the time, energy, and skills to build your own home, that's great. 
However, as a single mom of an infant son (at the time of construction), with a 
full-time job but limited carpentry skills, I would still be living in a tent.

I do not feel, in other words, that cohousers in particular, or even cohousing 
developers, are overlooking the less fortunate. But developing land requires 
accepting risk, and most people (except the exceptionally wealthy, who can 
afford to be charitable) can't afford and/or are not willing to take on that 
risk without the promise of getting something (generally, profit) in return.

If there are those on this list -- if you are one of them, Marty -- with deep 
pockets, who can afford to put up large amounts of their own money and not care 
if they ever see any of it again, I encourage you to start a cohousing 
construction company with affordability as its primary tenet. Affordable 
(co)housing, especially for retirees, is certainly a worthy cause. But it is 
not a cause which can be supported by those of us who are still struggling to 
keep our own heads above water.

Jenny Cook
Great Oak Cohousing
Ann Arbor, Michigan


"If you look at the home [CoHousing] prices in AZ, NM, CO, Baja CA, Sur,
MX, it is obvious to me that the wealthier are being targeted for much of
the current CoHousing across our Nation.

Time that we thought of the less fortunate."
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