Re: Low cost community housing group
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2010 13:44:10 -0800 (PST)
Lyle Scheer <wonko [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
due to a format problem.
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On 1/22/10 9:54 AM, Chili Head wrote:
> I actually cannot believe someone would write this (not Marganne, but
> someone else):  "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 ..."
> Gotta say, even if we HAD money, I wouldn't want to be part of a
> community that embraces such opinions.  If that's the true nature of
> the majority of this list, I'm likely outta here.
I'm not clear what is odious about the quote above.  Perhaps if it had
ended with, "...and that's why I feel the current model is good."

As it is, it appears to be making a speculative statement, which I might
reword as follows:

    1) posit:  "Highly dysfunctional people are more likely to be poor."
    2) thus theorizing:  "communities that create affordable housing
might attract more highly dysfunctional people, and might end up
spending inordinate amounts of time and energy dealing with said social

Reading above... it does make an assertion that "cohousing, with it's
economic barriers *is* largely free from".  I do not know if this is a
valid statement.  I have seen threads on this list about cohousing
communities dealing with socially dysfunctional people, so it's clear to
me that cohousing is not completely free from.  The relative relief
seems more speculative without studying.  I'm not sure I would discount
an assertion that low-income co-housing groups would have to deal with
more dysfunction than co-housing groups oriented in a different way... I
just don't know.  To me, that speculation is not offensive, but to my
scientific mind... curious.  It seems like it could possibly be proven.

Now... going into more speculation, having been through the development
phase of co-housing.... even without money issues, I would assert that
just getting a group together, making it functional, and creating a
housing solution would likely self-select or group select out
dysfunctional personalities.  If a person cannot work well within a
group, and disrupts the group's purpose, I speculate that either the
group will fail or will deal with removing the disruption.  Groups that
can figure out how to integrate such personalities, if possible, may end
up being stronger groups (this is also a speculative statement, but is a
more positively oriented speculation).  I have no idea if the low income
groups would have more or less trouble with such personalities than ones
that do not cater to low income groups.

One last thing....  I know in my particular co-housing experience, we
had choices to make, and one of them involved the tradeoff between green
building (using certified "green" lumber... the type we were looking at
was more expensive), or affordability (standard lumber again we found
was cheaper).  We chose affordability in that particular choice.
Different groups I believe would make different choices.  I do believe
that, and again this falls into opinion, an individual co-housing group
is the sum of it's individual members, and that like attracts like....
This would lead me to advise anyone interested in affordable co-housing
to form a group and start trying to attract others interested in
affordable co-housing, and make it the primary value.  The same said for
those interested in "green" co-housing, or "elder" co-housing, or
combinations of all of the above, though I do believe that any group
will run into decisions where it will need to decide between different
values that it holds in making choices.  For this I believe it's
important for any co-housing group to have a clear statement of values
and have everyone in the group be aware of those values and in consensus
(consensus not to be confused with agreement)

- Lyle

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