Re: Governance & Income Inequality [ was Common house design, rooms, and room sizes?
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2015 05:50:18 -0800 (PST)
First off, a couple of things I recommend (based not so much on cohousing 
experience, but rather life experience):
Don’t presume you know much about any household’s finances.  Some households 
that complain consistently about expenses actually have more financial 
flexibility than they let on.  While other households hanging on by their 
fingernails suffer assessments in silence, trying to maintain their standing, 
privacy and dignity.
Don’t invent a system that requires you to obtain evidence about a household’s 
financial standing (like, for instance, a review of tax returns).  You 
absolutely do NOT want to go anywhere near making communal judgments that 
Household X can, or can not, “afford” something.
Having said all that …  At Cornerstone Cohousing, we believe (not know for 
sure, but believe) that a few of our households are indeed operating within 
very strict budgetary limits.  And these are not necessarily the ones in our 
official, public-run “affordable” units.

Even so, a couple of years ago we agreed on about $67K (appx $2,000 per unit) 
of discretionary capital improvements, and funded them as follows:
25% of the cost was levied as a mandatory special assessment on each unit.  
This was actually adopted by consensus.
The remaining 75% was requested as a voluntary “fair share” payment.  
Basically, we said, We’re all in this together, and we all should contribute 
our fair share unless severe financial hardship results.  We left it to each 
household to determine on its own what “severe” meant.
Most households just wrote out a check for 100%.  (This is why you should not 
presume your neighbors are broke.)
A few households set up a multi-year time payment plan for their 100%.  And,
One household said, We really just can’t pay in full — and then wrote a check 
for 50%.
The projects are now mostly complete.  And a good time was had by all.


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

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