Re: Low cost housing
From: balaji (
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 01:39:00 -0700 (PDT)

You are right to call for the development of new financial institutions. 
A cohousing bank?  It could work.  But I shudder to think of the capital
requirements.  We're not talking Grameen-level loans here.

It is interesting to note how the same call for financial innovation was
made in the 19th century, in the hay-day of the Associationist movement.
People like Albert Brisbane and Horace Greeley tried to set up lending
programs that would operate within the "phalanxes" (what we call
"cohousing") and thus avoid the perils of conventional banking.  The
Mormons tried something similar in the 1830's in Ohio with the "Kirtland
Savings Association."  Unfortunately, their efforts did not bear fruit --
the Kirtland Bank exploded quite spectacularly -- and the cohousing-like
phalanxes all collapsed, one by one, leaving mountains of debt in their

For these reasons, unfortunately, we have been thrown back on the
convential mortgage system.  Most praticing cohousers I know have made
that work, some realizing significant gains on their investments.  But
others, many others, have been shut out, and the rest of us find it
unbelievably difficult to secure financing and approval.  I hope you are
right and new systems can be created.  The TRANSITION TOWN movement,
started in England and now spreading worldwide, gives me hope.

Best wishes,

Charles Nuckolls
Utah Valley Commons

Utah Valley Commons, a cohousing community to be located south of Salt
Lake City and within commuting distance of Utah Valley State College and
Brigham Young University, welcomes participation by individuals and
families interested in: co-housing, eco-village development, permaculture,
and sustainable living in general. The UVCC has no religious or political
affiliation, and includes (at the moment) LDS and non-LDS individuals and
families. Everyone is welcome. At present we are early in the planning
stage, and no site has been selected. The list will serve as forum for
discussion, and will lead to practical expression in the form of
eco-village and/or co-housing development in or near Provo, Utah. Our
models are Eco-Village at Ithaca (,
Champlain Valley Co-Housing (, the
Wasatch Commons (, and
Earthsong Eco-Neighborhood (, suitably
modified to local conditions.

"The future is not what you expect." James Howard Kuntsler

"If it is man's privilege to be independent, it is equally his duty to be
inter-dependent." M. K. Gandhi

> Charles,
> You are right. We are not independently wealthy--at least not most of us.
> However, I'm not sure *we have no choice but to conform*. Conventional
> construction financing is designed to ensure relatively high profits for
> the
> *risk* takers--the banks and other institutions that do that sort of
> thing.
> And, if you take their money, you have to abide by the model they
> understand
> and cohousing communities don't necessarily fit those models.
> But, I keep coming back to some emerging trends like the local food
> movement, the Ithaca Health Alliance, and the micro-lending world--trends
> that choose to work outside the system. The local food movement is an
> attempt to take back something critical from the industrial ag world that
> has given us obesity, poor health, monocultures, and environmental
> devastation. The Ithaca Health Alliance <> is
> an
> attempt to provide health services to the Ithaca community because their
> country has abandoned those that need it most. Micro-lending is a set of
> lenders (e.g., Grameen Bank <>) who try to
> address economic development in communities that have been ignored by
> conventional redlining lending institutions.
> So, my question is: Where are our groundbreaking institutions that
> understand the value and meaning of an investment in cohousing
> communities?
> Why are we not developing our own lending institutions--institutions that
> do
> understand the cohousing model? I'm not suggesting it is easy but maybe
> cohousers need to think about a Cohousing Bank of the US. Maybe we need to
> sharpen our cohousing models so that such a bank and its borrowers have a
> clear understanding or what a cohousing community is and why it is a good
> investment. Maybe, such a bank wouldn't require the profits of a
> conventional lending institution because their investors are interested in
> more than just making a lot of money. Maybe those currently living in
> cohousing communities would like the opportunity to invest their money
> where
> it is doing something they believe in as well as make a modest return.
> So, yes, you are right. If we choose to work within the system, we will
> have
> to play by their rules. What if we choose not to work within that system?
> John Faust
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