Re: Disengaged households
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 2009 12:36:14 -0800 (PST)

On Nov 1, 2009, at 9:48 PM, Fred H Olson wrote:

Our community is wrestling with the problem of four disengaged households who have said they want to leave and put their houses up for sale. But some of these are doing little to market their units and seem slow to move
on, a problem compounded by a poor real estate market.

After many years we started sending bills to people who do no work for the community. The first was the same situation. They had moved out, rented for two years to a household who didn't even say hello. When we said we didn't want them to sell to this household, the renters moved out but the owners made little effort to rent or sell. When we started sending them bills, they stepped it up.

We've had a clause in our Bylaws from the beginning that we could charge people for labor not contributed but no one would enforce it. It didn't feel right to many, even some who contribute a lot. But after 9 years, people are getting bills.

That said, however, except for one set of renters and some room mates, we really don't have households that are disengaged. We know everyone and everyone participates in the social life if not the work. In many of the instances of non-work, the people have just not a clue that work needs to be done. I'm frequently stunned at how little they know about it takes to keep the community running.

It was very helpful when we started workdays. There are many people who just want to show up and do what they are told. We have a list of jobs kept by a world-class list maker and a job broker who explains and directs people to jobs. People can choose a job or say where do you need me.

Many jobs have migrated to workdays but there are still many that have to be done during the week so charging people for not showing up wouldn't work for us. Workdays are also wonderful as social events. Even though I'm often upstairs working on the website, I enjoy going down for lunch and watching people work outside my window.

So send them a bill. We charge $20 an hour. Semi-skilled labor here.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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