Re: People vs Facilities [was Average Turn Over]
From: katie-henry (
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 23:40:12 -0700 (PDT)
Caren wrote: 

> I have often wondered what social wonders Sunward (Ann Arbor, MI) would 
> manifest 
> if we weren't so focussed on getting the weeding and the charter's done.  
> Working 
> together is supposed to bring us together; I wonder what would happen if we 
> just 
> started with the being together.  I know that it would shift the mix of 
> members to the 
> more wealthy, as we would have to pay for those services, but what else? 

I used to be opposed to paying for services on ideological grounds, but I am 
now a big fan. At Eastern Village, the first year was just awful. Endless 
discussion and arguing about cleaning, with no actual cleaning getting done. 
The building was so filthy that people were ashamed to have friends over. We 
finally hired a cleaning service to do limited cleaning, and it was a huge 
relief. The scope of work has increased over time. The cleaning lady is now on 
site about 35 hours a week. (This is a big building.) She does all interior 
cleaning, including guest rooms after each visitor leaves, and she also sweeps 
the exterior walkways. It costs about $30,000/year, which comes to about 
$37/month per unit. 

Some members were opposed to paying for cleaning because they couldn't afford 
an increase in condo fees. I personally don't remember too many of those 
members stepping up and doing a lot of cleaning themselves. There were other 
members who also had financial concerns but went along because they wanted a 
clean building and they wanted an end to the drama. At this point, four years 
in, I would be astonished to hear that anyone has negative feelings about 
paying for cleaning.

Based on my experience with Eastern Village -- not just with cleaning, but with 
service contracts (elevators, geothermal, etc.) -- if I were a developer doing 
a cohousing project (other than lot development), I would arrange to have every 
single possible service in place, paid for, and operating when the community 
moved in -- cleaning, landscaping, equipment maintenance and inspection, you 
name it. I would build the cost into the price of the units, and I would tell 
the community that they can live with the contracts for a year, and after that, 
if they want to do the work themselves to save money or build community spirit, 
they can cancel the contacts. Just moving in and learning to function as a 
community is hard enough without adding in all the labor (and talking about the 
labor, which is even more tiring than the labor itself).

Eastern Village Cohousing
Silver Spring, MD

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