Re: Urban Affordable Cooperative Cohousing Communities.
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2009 06:41:45 -0800 (PST)
Joani Blank <joani [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
after deleting remains of digest.
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

Joelyn, Jennifer and others,

As far as I know, there are only three cohousing communities in the
nation that are structured as cooperatives. They are Winslow Cohousing
on Bainbridge Island in Washington, Eco-Village at Ithaca (don't know if
their two, going on three, adjacent communities are one coop or are two,
soon to be three, separate coops), and I can't remember which is the
third. Berkeley Cohousing struggled long and hard to to decide whether
to be a condo or a cooperative, and ended up getting the city to make a
new designation just for them, a limited equity condominium.

I've heard that the main reason there are not more coop cohousing
communities is that it is extremely difficult if not impossible, to get
construction financing for a cohousing community that plans to be a coop.

As a person who converted her business into a worker cooperative (ask me
if you want to know more about what that is) after 15 years of sole
ownership, I'm much taken with cooperatives of all kinds (coop retail
stores ....aka consumer coops....and food coops, preschool coops,
student housing coops, agricultural coops),

I'd dearly love to see more cohousing communities structured as coops in
large measure because then the whole group owns the community, while
each resident household owns a membership share (which costs a lot less
than it costs to purchase a cohousing condo or townhouse). This means
that it's possible for people with a wider variety of incomes to afford
to live there. And for me and some others, there are some significant
social differences as well. Many people who currently lives in cohousing
would not be attracted to cooperative ownership, for a myriad of
reasons, not the least of which is that in a coop, one's membership
share does not increase in value (no more more than a small cost of
living increase) no matter how long one lives there.

Joani Blank

> "I'm a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, and I?m 
> completing my degree in regional planning.  My master?s thesis research is on 
> urban affordable cooperative cohousing developments.  I am looking for 
> information about urban affordable cohousing and cooperative/cohousing hybrid 
> developments possibly in the New England or New York metro areas."
> Jennifer - I'm very excited to see this. I'm also looking for existing models 
> of affordable cooperative cohousing, and ideas on appropriate markets and 
> business models for these. Monterey Cohousing Community in Minneapolis, where 
> I live, is a great example. But of course not anywhere near New York or New 
> England.
> I've just taken on the role of Interim Executive Director of the NorthCountry 
> Cooperative Foundation here in Minneapolis, and have been thinking a lot 
> about existing cooperative enterprise development models that could provide a 
> much sounder foundation than what's currently available, for how small groups 
> of committed individuals can become effective business partners with 
> developers to create cohousing communities. There are lots of resources out 
> there that we can make use of, that typical cohousing core groups probably 
> don't know about or have easy access to.
> I'd love to partner with you to exchange ideas on the possible benefits of 
> this model, and where this market niche idea might best be applied (cities 
> where conditions are favorable, including critical numbers of people 
> interested in cohousing). I'd also love to hear from anyone else who is 
> interested.
> The web site for the National Association of Housing 
> Cooperatives, is a great place to look if you 
> can't find specific info on Cohousing cooperatives. They have toolkits for 
> developing cooperative housing, but their focus is still on nonprofit 
> developers being the initiators, not the future coop residents themselves. 
> With the foreclosure crisis, there may be affordable properties available 
> that would make great "retrofit" cohousing communities. It's something we 
> plan to look at for here in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
> Joelyn Malone
> 9520926-8554
> Monterey Cohousing Community
> ... where I'm now wearing yet another hat in addition to running Malone 
> Consulting and Cohousing Advocates!

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