Achieving income diversity•Seeking input on compassionate HOA calculation
From: heidinys (
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2007 04:36:58 -0800 (PST)
Hi,  Christine and others,

This is an important quandary. I've never pasted in a long inclusion, I hope this one is forgivable. While looking in my own CoHo archives for a place to keep Joelyn Malone's response, I came a cross the following from JP CoCo in Boston. This will give you a date and title to use in searching the Archives, as well as a personal contact at JP COHo. They clearly seem to understand that there are inequities, and we can offer a compassionate--if complicated--response. Around here, someone might, for example, work long and hard, and carry a great deal of responsibility as a Nursing Assistant/Nurses Aide, and be paid very little. Hope this is helpful! PS: where is Highline Crossing? Best Wishes, Ruth hirsch, Cantines Island, Saugerties, NY. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2006 09:31:04 -0400
From: patjavcc [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ achieving income and other diversity goals


Providing ways to get economic diversity in cohousing was one of our biggest goals here in Boston's JPCohousing, (one year move in this June.)

Of our 30 units, we have 15 very low, low, and mod income households (based on the HUD guidelines for affordability). The other 15 households are considered 'high' income by these guidelines.

There are some important things to do at the onset:

1) Make an absolutely no customizations rule. Once your design committee comes up with the basic plans and materials, even if you have a household who will pay cash in advance, they should not be permitted to get special cabinets, fixtures, etc. until after they move in. One of the keys to keeping the overall costs down, is to not allow the delays that happen because of customizations.

2) Allow qualifying households to pay a lessor percent to become an equity member, and allow those households to make payments toward this goal, instead of requiring full cash deposits. (At JPC, equity costs were 7% of estimated unit purchase price, 5% for low income - payment plan available.) To make up the cash shortfall that may occur, provide interest incentives to members who can pay more than 7%.

3) Build an affordability fund into your budget. Ours was a straight 50K line item. How you use this money doesn't need to be decided right away. We have in our condo docs that this fund will be ,administered by a sub group. Ideas for usage: assist a low income family temporarily with condo fees, assist if a household loses income because of illness, job loss, etc. Low and mod income families will be attracted to a project that has thought ahead to create such a fund. After one year, we have not tapped this fund yet.

4) At JPC we created a co-purchase option. Households were given the option to invest into a fund. The fund then co-purchased, (second or third position behind the traditional mortgage) a qualifying household's unit. The fund ,receives a return when the house sells, sharing in the profit of the sale based on what % the fund 'owns' of the unit. This program was very effective in allowing at least 4 households to buy units. Without this co-purchase plan, the households would have been only 10K-30K short of being able to move in. Write me off line if you'd like more info on this program.

5) Finally, try to be as inviting as possible. Tell everyone when they start to attend meetings, "Don't let money issues get in the way of you joining at this early stage. So many things can change in the next few years, including ,the unit prices." If you can attract and keep your lower income members involved during development, you will be amazed at the 'magic' that happens when wealthier neighbors begin to help their lower income development partners. This is something that you can't 'sell' at an orientation, but try very hard to keep the low income households interested in the beginning.

We do not have the problem of low income families not participating. We also do not have the problem of low income families causing problem with HOA monthly costs and decision. I think the key reason is that many of these households worked with us for years on this project before move in. They understand the needs of their wealthier neighbors and respect those needs too.

This is one of my favorite subjects!
JPCohousing, Boston

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