Re: Affordable Housing: Rentals vs For Sale
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2012 08:03:54 -0700 (PDT)
On 22 Jul 2012, at 10:38 AM, Marty Maskall wrote:

> We will be including two Affordable Housing units in our 38-unit Folsom
> EcoHousing project, 20 miles east of Sacramento, CA.  I'm wondering whether
> they should be rentals or "for sale" units.  We've seen a huge demand for
> rentals, 

Aside from the affordable housing income-requirement problems, there is the 
issue of the 20-somethings who are not ready financially or emotionally to buy. 
This age group, as we've discussed before, is largely missing from cohousing. 
Rentals would allow them participate and still free to "individualize."

Rentals also allow the community to have income at market rates. That income 
wouldn't necessarily be used lower condo fees for others but to build reserves 
and add capital improvements. Many communities have inadequate or no reserves.

As we have discussed, capital improvements are the hardest things to fund. At 
one of the cohousing conferences the mantra from a workshop on this was, 
"Unless you build or fund it before you move it, you won't get it." 

Some communities have reported major capital improvements but we have only been 
able to afford these so far with the aid of private donations. Having rental 
income to fund improvements would be wonderful.

A problem with rentals will be keeping them rentals. I think you will get 
residents who want to stay and there will be no other place for them. We have 
had this problem when people have leased units of traveling or relocated 
owners. We have a family leasing a unit but they want to buy a larger one. They 
will likely leave unless one becomes available, which is even less likely.

I say go with rentals but up front, make agreements about these issues. Hard to 
make them after you have become attached to a household or when people are 
feeling guilty about making a profit off the rental. At the beginning everyone 
is anxious about money so this is the time to make the decisions.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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