Re: Creating more affordable cohousing - a personal story...
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2012 12:03:49 -0800 (PST)
Ditto!  See below

> On Dec 29, 2012, at 11:44 AM, Ann Zabaldo wrote:

>> Another one is ... municipalities that make funding available to 
>> developments for affordable housing have an interest in making sure the 
>> housing goes to those buyers who meet their income and other requirements.  
>> Some municipalities have a waiting list, others have a lottery.  
>> Just these two things make it difficult to build "affordable cohousing."  

On Dec 29, 2012, at 12:57 PM, Elizabeth Magill wrote:
> I've heard of at least one cohousing community that the price of their market 
> rate homes was so low in comparison to the market that they ended up with 
> buyers that were not really interested in cohousing.
> And in OUR community, we haven't had a single person come through the 
> lottery, or through the state system that wasn't interested in cohousing. 
> EVERY single applicant wanted to be in cohousing, the affordablity program 
> made it so they could afford it.
See below.
> I think that it is just our (cohousers, including myself) old fears that the 
> people who want affordable homes aren't the same as us that makes us (me 
> included) worry about getting the wrong people through these state lists. 

I agree w/ this statement -- to a point.   There's another issue that ties in 
w/ this whole thing.  HOmes that meet the affordability guidelines are awarded 
close to the time the take out mortgages are secured -- this is at the END of 
the development process.   So ... these folks are likely not going to be part 
of the earlier process of organizing the community.  This is great if you need 
buyers at the end and your remaining homes meet the affordability requirement.  
But what about the people who work from the beginning?  Will they be able to 
get the affordable homes?  And will people work for 2+ years w/out a guarantee 
of getting an affordable home?  My experience has been that people needing an 
affordable or low cost home want it or need it NOW ... they don't have two 
years to invest w/out a guarantee of owning a home.

So in your case, Elizabeth, you were/are ACTIVELY LOOKING for buyers. You 
needed buyers.   In this case, this worked for you.  In the case of Takoma 
Village and Eastern Village, we had the buyers.  ALL the buyers.  The problem 
was/is that in DC and surrounding areas there are lotteries and long waiting 
lists to get affordable housing.  Here, if  you have group members who are NOT 
on the list and don't win in the lottery ... ooops.  You may end up w/ 
prospective members who have worked as group members for 2+ years unable to 
buy.   This has happened in more than one community around here.

On the other hand, because Don Tucker, the developer of both Takoma and Eastern 
villages had long experience in affordable housing (35+ years) he was able to 
negotiate a special program at Eastern Village and a special mortgage bond at 
Takoma Village that helped out the group in both communities. This is why 
communities should work w/ a professional developer.   (But at EVC it was touch 
 n' go to the end -- it's a truly, truly complicated set of policies and an 
amazing story to go w/ it. Touch n' go ... happy to recount it in painful 
detail over several beers sometime later ...)
> At the start Mosaic voted on who could join. At the end we were careful to 
> describe who we were and assumed only people who wanted to live here would 
> decide to do so.

Elizabeth -- what criteria did you use to approve or disapprove membership at 
Mosaic?  What has been other folks's experience w/ approving or disapproving 
> In my opinion the number of mis-matches in the two systems of joining was 
> exactly the same. And the percent of market rate and affordable mis-matches 
> are the same as well.

Well.  We won't know for sure until we have real data AND I take your word that 
this is what it seems for you.

My other question for you, Liz, is why you still have 4 affordable homes left?  
Just curious as to why the affordability programs in your area have not 
produced buyers for you.  It's probably a complicated answer -- and I'm just 
curious.  No other motive here.  :-)

Ann Z.
Washington DC


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