Re: Creating more affordable cohousing - a personal story...
From: Doug Huston (
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2012 18:47:24 -0800 (PST)
For us in our Ashland, OR cohousing community........
we moved in in September of 2007. All but two of the 13 households were active members during the development process. This is still true, as we have only had one unit turnover, and the person in that house was was an eleventh hour member! We acted as our own developers. Two of the units are 'affordable' (defined as 60% or under of median income, as well as many other specifics which I imagine those of you chiming in are likely aware of). The members who bought the affordable units were involved for over a year and a half during the development phase. It was challenging in a number of ways. One was that they had to periodically re-apply to insure they still met criteria. A second challenge was that it was unclear whether we could accommodate both (2) two parent families with children. This had to do with house size and similarity in the two affordable units. Both units were our two smallest. Ultimately it was the flexibility of one member and the community that helped us rearrange which units we chose to designate as 'affordable.' Then both families were able to remain and move in. Another challenge was that it set up some two-tiered dynamics for certain issues. This had to do with the choice that was posed at purchase. The choice was to obtain more money for the house up front, and as a result, then waive HOA dues (eternally). Or to take less for the house and be able to charge HOA dues. We chose the former, as money was tight. So periodically, members in the 'affordable' units were marginalized in certain discussion. I believe there was a chapter in David Wann's Reinventing Community book that discussed some of these issues in a Colorado cohousing community. It was interesting to me (now, and then) that who we imagined would live in these 'affordable' units would be different from who they turned out to be. They aren't. I think there are many factors that contribute to that reality. I think its important to add that we live in a largely homogeneous area. At the last cohousing conference, there was a session devoted to diversity in cohousing. It seems to me to be rich territory.
- Doug Huston

I'd be interested to know how many cohousing developments in the last five or six years have actually only had, or even primarily had, developers of the community be buyers of the homes.

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