Re: Governance & Income Inequality [ was Common house design, rooms, and room sizes?
From: Emilie Parker (
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2015 18:46:56 -0800 (PST)
Hopefully we'll be able to develop a process and agree on values to deal
with income inequality issues related to paying all the expenses.  With
some families making 4 times the income of other families, having everyone
pay the same seems wild.  Yet having graduated HOA payments based on income
is probably not going to feel good to those who pay more.

Emilie Parker
emilie.v.parker [at]
303-317-4558 main
240-350-8533 cell

On Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 7:24 PM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>

> > On Feb 9, 2015, at 6:57 PM, Emilie Parker <emilie.v.parker [at]>
> wrote:
> >
> > It scares me that we are going against your recommendation with this.
> How
> > do you think we can overcome the income inequality issue?
> I don't want to pretend to be an expert on income inequality in
> residential groups. Other communities have followed various budgeting
> strategies to set up voluntarily graduated condo fees. Perhaps they will
> speak up.
> In the end it depends on your residents and how they feel about it--both
> the high and the low income earners. In the beginning some of our members
> had not wanted to allow anyone to donate money because the donors would
> then feel some kind of ownership or entitlement over the things they
> donated funds to buy. This has not happened at all. It has allowed them to
> have things in the community that they wanted and that everyone has freely
> benefited from -- like a universal gym, a nice fence around a yard that is
> now a play yard, etc.
> You might look at research on income inequality in common interest groups,
> ones that own property together. Many condos and coops have income
> screening so no one moves in who is going to have problems down the line.
> The problem is finding a study on a population similar to cohousing. And
> the question is how big can the spread be before you have a problem. As
> with all things, if you like the person it doesn't matter. But when things
> turn sour, or the money requirements begin making you uncomfortable, then
> what?
> I was once a part of a group that started a parent cooperative school. The
> philosophy was that all parents should pay but only pay what they could
> afford to pay. Never again. People have incredibly different ideas of what
> they can afford to pay. I would only do such a thing with objective
> standards against which everyone was measured. No standards can ever be
> perfect but they more equitable when it comes to money than self-determined
> standards.
> Eris has done a nice small book on talking about money. I recommend it and
> her.
> Money is a central issue in cohousing because it has to be coped with one
> way or the other. Someone has to do the building for owners or for renters.
> Someone has to pay the bills. How people feel about it varies widely. You
> need to know how your groups feels and what their expectations are.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines, Washington DC
> "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't
> have any." Alice Walker
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