Re: Agreements to reshare financial burden (was: Per Household or per person?)
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2013 08:14:32 -0700 (PDT)
> Our individuals of course did form a corporation (LLC), but the lender knew
> it wasn't a "real" company...they (wisely, I guess) required the
> individuals in the corporation (us) to sign personal guaranties before
> they'd give us our loan, so any money the project doesn't pay back comes
> out of the pockets of the LLC members.

This comment is not directed at any specific community -- many of us have 
operated on the premise that legal documents are for the bank or the lawyers, 
not for "us." This is intended for forming and new communities.

Assuming that legal documents are not "real" is one of the wrong paths that 
cohousing has taken. Legal documents are real. When push comes to shove, 
calamity to calamity, they will be enforced by outside agencies if not inside 

As time goes by and new people join the group, before move in and after, the 
newer members don't have the same informal expectations because they weren't 
part of those earlier bonding discussions. As time goes by new members are 
taking less risk and have less understanding of how hard it was to get started. 
They are unaware of the fingers hanging off the edge of the cliff for sometimes 

One resident who moved in a few years after we moved in, at the height of the 
housing market, said, "You guys got a free ride and cheap prices." Another who 
moved in 2-3 years ago said, "We aren't all in this together. We are owners in 
a condominium. All our situations are different."

New people are given the condominium declaration, bylaws, and the policies 
before they move in. Their purchase is considered acceptance of those 
documents. Nothing else.

I don't know how to re-create for new residents the bonding of those early 
years, but without it, the community and individual homeowners are dependent on 
good will and legal documents. And good will is in the eye of the beholder.

We've been very lucky since we don't have an extensive pre-move in orientation 
process. Everyone who has moved in has been more involved that those who moved 
out. But that isn't always saying much -- some of the people who moved out were 
fairly uninvolved. 

What I would like to hear about are ways of repeating that early bonding 
without creating a crisis.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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