Re: Increase in housing values: A boon or disaster for cohousing?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 05:39:28 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 12, 2006, at 8:13 PM, Amy Dwyer wrote:

It helps that we are on the West side of Salt Lake City, which is great for us since property values are generally low, and I daresay even undervalued, here. And I think in the west side we have the most interesting, multiethnic Salt Lake Neighborhood in town...probably in the whole state, come to think of it.

One of the things that cohousing has done is create wealth. This is nothing to bash people in the head about. Cohousing communities create something out of nothing. They leverage, on the whole, minimal funds -- I don't know anyone who moved into cohousing without a mortgage -- and put in a LOT of sweat equity. They built on the least expensive land they could afford, by far not the most desirable, and brought the surrounding neighborhoods up with them. They tend to be "cultural creatives" as well, bringing multicultural values along with them. Studies are showing that these create the most revitalized neighborhoods, raising up whole cities. As soon as some of the ideas Dave Wann outlined in Superbia! come to fruition, they will do the same for the suburbs.

For example, the land that Takoma Village sits on was a former dry cleaning plant and then a used car lot. Murders literally took place in the neighborhood, two across the street from us in the first 3 years we lived here. We have basements because so much contaminated soil had to be trucked away. This land was a blight on the neighborhood of aging bungalows next to the train tracks. We still have the Metro, Amtrak, commuter, and freight trains coming by 24/7. We had to run a brothel out of the building behind us and get the liquor control board to require a jazz bar to hire extra security when they scheduled hip-hop bands so guns didn't start firing when they closed at 3:00 am. Under cover police officers met drug informants across the street. We know because one was killed after being picked up outside our only food market -- it specializes in candy and beer. We also worked with the store, run by a Jamaican American family, to carry some real food so now they also carry fruit, skim milk, water, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream as well. And rearranged the store to be more open and welcoming and less like a cage. None of this happens just because yuppies move in. It's work.

Our homes were not built on either prime land or in a prime neighborhood although it had just received historic district status. But now, our home AND those around us are worth 3 times what they were when we moved in. No small part of this is because we built Takoma Village and participated in building the larger community. That is what creates wealth.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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