Re: Affordable / rental cohousing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2013 05:55:15 -0700 (PDT)
On Sep 8, 2013, at 8:35 AM, Fred H Olson <fholson [at]> wrote:

> Recruiting renters for a cohousing community becomes critical to find
> people who really want to live in cohousing rather than those who just
> want a nice place to rent.  And of course it is complicated by fair
> housing / anti discrimination laws.

I've been told by people who know such things that we worry too much about 
anti-discrimination laws. The law is designed to prevent discrimination against 
certain protected classes: 

> race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including 
> children under the age of 18 living with parents of legal custodians, 
> pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), 
> and handicap (disability). - See more at: 

As long as the interviews, purchasing process, bidding war, etc., isn't 
weighted against a prospective resident on the basis of one or more of these 
classes, there is no discrimination.

At Takoma Village we have residents who now or have fit into all of these 
classes. (No one is pregnant at the moment, for example.) It would be very hard 
for anyone to credibly claim discrimination. 

One issue is that loose lips sink ships. People need to understand that casual 
comments can be misinterpreted. One condominium was sued because a board member 
casually said to a handicapped person who was considering a unit that they 
weren't really set up for wheelchairs. When the unit was subsequently sold to 
someone else, for whatever reason, the person sued and won an out of court 

I once asked a prospective job candidate how he was going to manage to work in 
New York City when his family was in Buffalo -- several hundred miles away. He 
declined to answer and I was told by the union president that that was an 
illegal question. We would not have hired him knowing that this situation was 
untenable and one of us would suffer, but because I asked that question and 
asked it in front of several people, he could have sued on the basis of 
familial status when we didn't hire him.

In general good faith, informed decisions do not constitute discrimination, but 
it is best if people are aware of what might sound like discrimination to 
someone else.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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