Re: Group Forming need advice
From: Catya Belfer-Shevett (
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2007 06:43:08 -0800 (PST)
Hi Nathan,

I think that if you do individual title your best bet is a condo association with some pretty strict condo rules that new people have to sign on to. It's still self-selection, but you can heavily influence who will self-select.

        - catya

nathan schomber wrote:
Thanks Catya, for your suggestion. I checked  it out a little.
  At least on the surface, it doesn't seem that a coop would be what we're 
looking for.
Here are some quotes from the National Association of Housing Cooperatives website. "The main distinction between a housing co-op and other forms of homeownership is that in a housing co-op you don't directly own real estate. But if you don't own real estate, what exactly are you buying? You are buying shares or a membership in a cooperative housing corporation. The corporation owns or leases all real estate." This wouldn't work for us as we want to own with title our individual parcels. That's why we like about cohousing. Also from that website: "Are co-ops allowed to discriminate? Like any other form of housing, cooperatives may not discriminate based on the protected classes listed in the Fair Housing Act, which includes race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability. Historically, the basic cooperative principles include both open membership without restriction as provided by law and non-partisan in politics and non-sectarian in religion." Our group would never discriminate based on those factors. Indeed we welcome diversity of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability. What would be determining factors for membership would be shared values and lifestyle implementation of those shared values. We want to be surounded by folks who embrace caretaking of the Earth, low impact and sustainable stewardship of the land. Dedication to living permaculture principles. Folks endeavoring to produce more than they consume. Because we'll be living and working together most of our time, we need to be able to select members we feel fit with our goals and lifestyle. But, from the above quote, I gather that co-ops are in the same boat as cohousers with regards to not being able to select members. I don't see how a housing co-op would would be the answer in that respect. Maybe there are co-op variations but it still seems that the cohousing model might be the closest for our puroses. Peace to You- Nathan Catya Belfer-Shevett <catya [at]> wrote: Sounds like you want a co-op; depending on what state you are in you will have better or worse luck with financing.

- catya

nathan schomber wrote:
Thanks for the info so far!

I'm curious if anyone has experience or knowledge of different ways to set up a legal 
structure whereby a group still has full control over membership/"who buys in" while 
still qualifying for bank loans. Is 'first right of refusal" an option that actually 
works. Have groups successfully used it? If so what were the general circumstances. It seems 
that there are opposing views on this. Maybe there are other options?

If our group decided that we could forgo bank financing, would that give us the 
legal power to select our members? I'm wondering if it must be a choice of the 
two- either no banks and we can have control or involve banks and we lose 

I've read a lot of posts about how many CH's are set up to self select and have 
read about how that seems to work pretty well. However, the majority of our 
group is really concerned about wanting to have full say over who joins; IE our 
group wants to have that control. This is because our group plans to be more 
closely associated with each other than most coho'ers. Our plan involves 
setting up a business(es) together so we don't have to work outside of the 
community although participation is optional(one can work where they choose). 
We are shooting for a closer group dynamic, probably more like some intentional 
communities than most cohousing groups. Since we already share a majority of 
our lifestyle/ cultural views and will be living and working together daily for 
a majority of our time, it is very important that we are able to choose 
carefully who joins us in the future.

For some more general info: Our system involves elements from several models- 
cohousing, intentional communities and ecovillages.

For example- from cohousing: the balance of privately owned parcels (individual homes) and communally shared space (community center/common house, school,workshop, etc.) From intentional communities: Sharing a livelihood-working together in (optional) communal business(es), also schooling our own children,etc.
From ecovillages: We'll be rural. We desire to grow/raise as much of our own 
food and consumables. We will utilize solar, water, wind, biofuels to become as 
energy self-sufficient as possible.

I'm also wondering if there are any other groups out there like this.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated by our group! Thanks
Peace to You- Nathan

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