Re: affordable cohousing
From: Marganne Meyer (margannemacnexus.org)
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2010 01:59:43 -0800 (PST)
Rob -- thank you for your post. Sorry I'm coming in a little late in the discussion. This is close to the same case made about once every other year on this list. A separate list was established for people who were interested in putting together a low cost community project.

We primarily decided to separate this discussion from the main list because of a prevailing feeling that involved people not wanting to lose the investment value of their homes by having smaller (supposedly shabbier) homes located nearby. It was a difficult discussion. I'm sure you could find it in the archives of this list.

I believe (and have some anecdotal information) smaller homes don't lower values when in the same neighborhood as larger homes. It's something many people in our culture are uncomfortable considering because they can't imagine living in a smaller house. Everyone has different expectations of how many square feet they need for a home.

In a separate mailing list, we informally agreed that planning department restrictions are the biggest obstacle to development of a low-cost community project. Sometimes the planning can be changed, but then the local community sees it as impacting their lifestyle -- increasing traffic, etc.

The final thing I feel stands in the way of developing pilot low-cost housing communities is low profit margins for developers. One more thing: As I recall, the most conducive plan (coming from a discussion on the other mailing list) for this kind of community was to purchase a mobile home park, where the zoning for multiple homes wouldn't be a problem. Then there was the price of a mobile home park ......

I applaud your community for finding a serious solution for a growing number of people who will not be able to own a home and who want to live in community.

At 10:10 AM -0700 9/26/09, Rob Sandelin wrote:
I filled out the survey but it didn't really cover how we operate and since
there is strong bias against lot development in cohousing circles I thought
it was at least worth mentioning that lot development allows people to build
their own homes, using recycled free materials, and alternative designs at
very low cost.  We have two residences which are very small and cost less
than $40,000 including the cost of the lot.  We have another which is owner
built which cost less than $120,000 to build. Of course there are some
hugely expensive homes built here as well but we do have a good mix, and
some of the larger homes host our 10 rental apartments which also provide
opportunities for non-owners to live here.
Rob Sandelin
Out in the woods of Sharingwood
Snohomish County, WA


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