Re: a strategy for affordability
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 24 May 2010 17:27:54 -0700 (PDT)

On May 24, 2010, at 3:13 PM, Brian Bartholomew wrote:

A $60,000 mortgage for 20 years at 8 percent interest is $440/month.
Split the 1,500 sf above into a duplex of equal sizes, and get a
renter.  This estimate leaves things out and the numbers should be
worked more carefully, but it seems plausible to me.

One problem is that banks are getting very picky so you have to have an income that will support the larger mortgage before you can get the property to rent. In my experience, that you plan to rent isn't considered proof of income.

I have a friend who cosigned a mortgage that has been paid on time by the other cosigners for several years. She applied for a mortgage refinance and they turned her down because she doesn't have the income to cover both mortgages.

I think what we need is a specific vision of a community of small homes or apartments that is attractively designed and features solid construction.

On the small homes list, there are lots of ideas for specific kinds of homes, but no vision of a community that I've seen -- and I'm not currently a member.

One of the issues that will come up or not come up but greatly influence the zoning decision is the fear that people who need small, inexpensive homes will not take care of them so there will be a blight in the middle of the neighborhood.

In my neighborhood the city has started moving in group homes. Group homes are intended to deinstitutionalize people by integrating them back into communities. But they are placing these homes close together, three in one block, because it's easier for the staff. They not fulfilling their purpose, and the homes are not kept up like the neighboring homes homes. The lawns are threadbare from cars and trucks parking on them. No flowers are ever planted. The staff comes and goes without ever saying hello -- and this is a saying hello neighborhood. When people complain they are accused of discrimination and NIMBY.

A local zoning board seeing this has a vision in their heads of what low cost housing will bring so that vision will have to be addressed. That's why many intentional communities end up in rural areas. No zoning restrictions.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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