A strategy for affordability
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Sat, 22 May 2010 10:50:18 -0700 (PDT)

On May 22, 2010, at 1:03 AM, Greg Nelson wrote:

I still think that offering smaller and more affordable homes should
be explicit goals of the cohousing movement.  I just would rather
avoid running off again in the direction that says "it's all about
there being too many laws" rather than a balanced approach that fights
the most important battles for affordability in each community.

Well said. We need to pin this down. It needs people with the interest and the focus to jump all the real or perceived hurdles _in a specific place_ at a specific price point. Make a list of the hurdles and start going through them.

Another approach would be to design a specific community. Choose one of the many approaches to building low-cost sustainable housing, design the community, do a budget, etc. -- and then find a place to put it. Perhaps seeing the attractiveness and the clarity of design a local zoning would allow it. With a clear design, perhaps national publicity would help attract a location.

As long as we just point out the hurdles, they can't be resolved because we would have to first change all the federal, state, and local laws, then change the whole financial system. I'm working on an approach for doing that but frankly, I will be very dead before it has a chance of happening. (If you want to prove me wrong, go for it.)

There are wonderful examples on the small house list of people who have been incredibly creative about living in small spaces. And particularly demonstrating that one can be happier that way. There are also so many ways of building small living units and converting small spaces to homes that just considering them as options could take a very long time. Choosing one would be a way of pinning it down.

The ideas and the "can it be done" issues are all resolved. Yes it can and there are great ideas for doing, but where and how does it get financed? What would this specific community look like? Prefab or containers? Rehab or start fresh?

Cohousers from what I've read on this list and from talking with cohousing professional has grown when when people gave up trying to include all alternatives -- reinventing the wheel -- and made hard choices from the beginning based on real alternatives. They had to pin themselves down to the realities of specific financing conditions and available land and work through the hurdles.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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