Re: affordable, rental cohousing! (No. Calif.)
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 07:34:36 -0700 (PDT)
Hello all --

Sorry to be so late replying to this thread.

My question regards the efficacy of putting all low income people into one project cohousing or not.

When I was in Denmark in '99 we visited a cohousing community that was composed of people pretty much on the "margin." The thing the people talked most about was the lack of funds to do any project that moved their community forward from its very basic foundations.

At Takoma Village we often have people of more means stepping forward w/ gifts of money or other in kind donations to the community that raise the standard of living for everyone.

It seems to me that mixing incomes has more potential for the community overall -- and maybe the larger community as well. An example: in Montgomery County, Maryland, there are no "slums" because low and moderate income housing is mixed throughout the county in all developments of 20 units or more. Now ... say what you want about the program -- it's flawed, it's difficult from a developer's point of view, it's a bear to administer, etc. BUT the county is free of slums and low income folks rub elbows w/ people of higher means. That can't be bad!

Anyway -- would love to hear your thoughts about congregating all low income residents together in one development. Maybe w/ rental units it will prove beneficial as there will be an external body w/ some involvement w/ the community overall and ongoingly (is this a word?)

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village
Washington, DC
Principal, The Cohousing Collaborative
McLean, VA

PH: 703 663 3911
FAX 202 291 8594

On Aug 1, 2008, at 3:30 PM, Marganne Meyer wrote:

At 1:03 PM -0700 7/28/08, Eris Weaver wrote:
The application period for units in Petaluma Avenue Homes has been extended to August 30. Please pass this information on to anyone you know who may be
interested in an affordable, all-rental cohousing community!

The 45-unit project was designed by McCamant & Durrett and is in Sebastopol, California, a pleasant and progressive community in Sonoma County. It is

Sorry I've been late to hear about this effort to create low cost
community housing with a rental model. I checked out the above
project website plus associated information presented in the second
part of the three-part article published last year in the cohousing

Many of the difficulties of creating low cost cohousing have been
discussed both here and on the Low Cost Community Housing (LCCH)
mailing list. Finding developers for low cost projects was identified
as a potential problem. The article author suggests most experienced
cohousing developers already participate in creating low cost
cohousing. This is a little confusing to me.

The Petaluma/Sepastapol project was created in connection with a
company called Affordable Housing Associates (AHA) and
is a government-subsidized project. The article author said the
challenge is in finding and qualifying people for residency.

Does more than this one rental-based, low income project exist? If
so, could someone please let me know where I can find information
about these projects? I'd like to find out how those communities have
worked out similar problems.

In prior discussions, it was suggested that combining larger and
smaller units in one project would have a negative effect on the
value of the larger homes. Have projects already been built that
successfully combine large and small units?

In projects where a portion of the units are designated as 'low
income' and qualify for government subsidy, how has integration of
the occupants into the overall community worked out? Are the units in
these communities the same size as all the other units, or were they
purposely built smaller for economic reasons?

Another problem identified in the affordable cohousing article (and
one we have discussed) is hoping to attract renters who will embrace
the 'intrinsic benefits of cohousing'. A common belief is that
lower-cost or smaller units, especially rentals,  might not be
maintained at the same level as larger, owner/resident units. The
Sebastapol project specifically talks about how it will try to deal
with creating community among residents who aren't familiar with the
cohousing model.

Have other projects that include subsidized units found it difficult
to find qualifying members? If the units are occupied, has there been
any problems with encouraging those residents to join in community
activities and maintain the residence?

Are there any projects already existing and occupied based on this
all-rental concept? I'd like to check them out.

I guess I'm questioning the conclusions drawn about low cost
cohousing after lengthy discussions on this list and on the LCCH list.

The cohousing, small house movement

Low Cost Community Housing
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