Re: affordable cohousing, not "gated"
From: Karen Carlson (
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 2010 22:30:58 -0800 (PST)
Is this generally true? Our community has more people at or about 66 years of age. Haven't a number of communities found that the retirement stage is well represented?

On Jan 22, 2010, at 12:04 AM, Jan DeKenis wrote:

I would add that older adults also can be excluded.  It's hard to get
a mortgage if one's retired and can't tie up a good portion of one'
assets by owning outright.

I think you could make an argument that the "gates" of cohousing are
economic in nature. If you can't get a mortgage because of bad credit, poor job history, or just don't qualify for home ownership based on your income
you are locked out. Not by the community, by the lenders. This is no
different than any other housing ownership. The economic barriers serve as
a screening device for people with stable jobs and successful income
generation. Thus, home ownership is a form of achievement, requiring a certain level of functional ability to hold a job. Since home ownership is a central feature of cohousing, this is unlikely to change. There are other forms of community which are not based on home ownership and many have very little investment requirements. One downside to this is that these can attract people who are highly dysfunctional and thus the community can end up spending inordinate amounts of energy dealing with social pathology, something cohousing, with its economic barriers is largely free from. The
obvious downside to the economic gate keeping of mortgages is that it
excludes some excellent people, especially younger adults.

It is too bad there is not more rental ability built into cohousing. At Sharingwood we have some rental spaces, but its much easier to have separate apartment setups in our large homes. The ability to remodel a basement, or other space into a separate living space could be planned into developments for future rental spaces but would require thinking ahead and also paying ahead the costs of plumbing stubs and other systems. I know that having rentals helps some people here pay their mortgages, while creating living spaces for people with rental incomes or who want to try out this weird
community living experiment before investing in ownership.

Rob Sandelin
Snohomish County, WA

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