Re: monthly dues and affordable housing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2007 05:22:22 -0700 (PDT)

On Jul 31, 2007, at 12:55 AM, karen jacobsen wrote:

Different from what is comprised in the usual non-cohousing HOA dues, what does your community do with "softer" expenses like workshops/ trainings, child care, garden expenses, marketing, special assessments for community
improvements, community events or parties, etc?

While we didn't have any units designated "affordable" we did have many units that qualified for a special bond program for first time DC home buyers and others whose buyers qualified for various long term tax exemption programs. We have a very wide range of income levels in the community. And a wide range of apartment sizes from small one bedroom flats to townhouses with four bedrooms on three floors with full basements.

All the condo fees are the same. 50% of costs are divided equally amongst units and 50% are spread proportionately based roughly on unit size.

Now that we have been living here for 7 years and people use facilities differently than some of us expected, there is a move to cover costs differently for some things but it may never happen. It's very hard to change things once people get used to them until there is a crisis. But it would not be based on ability to pay -- only on use or lack of use of some facilities.

Ability to pay is very hard to judge since people use their money and make life choices so differently. We have mothers who have chosen not to work and to go on welfare so they can stay home with infants while others are working and struggling to pay child care. Which one has less "ability to pay"?

Others choose low paying and part time jobs, working only long enough to pay the bills before they take a few months off again. Does the community subsidize this because they would qualify as very low income? The costs to us for having them in the community do not change.

On the other hand, there are instances were those with more money do donate for special projects. This is totally voluntary and no issue is made of it. Those who wanted a universal gym donated the money to buy one but everyone uses it. Those who wanted a fence on the SE corner donated money for it -- some significantly more than others.

No one in the community makes an issue of having donated more than someone else or tries to use that as an advantage in influencing the course of the decision. Those who do not donate are not less involved in the decisions about how the money is spent. If anything those who donate more money are less involved because they are busy out there making money!

At move-in, however, it is easier to make the distinctions because they are made by external agencies and simply by the numbers. After move-in, I really can't imagine such distinctions being comfortable for very long.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington DC

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