Re: Governance & Income Inequality
From: Fred-List manager (
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2015 04:39:11 -0800 (PST)
Eris Weaver <eris [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
due to a format problem.

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Peter Goldstein wrote:

> Jerome Garciano and Betsy Morris gave an excellent talk about
>building for affordability at the Northeast Summit in '13…<snip>
>They upheld some examples as having done affordability well: Petaluma
>Avenue Homes (Sebastopol, CA)

I consulted on the Petaluma Avenue project for two years. It is an
affordable rental housing project, physically designed as cohousing…it
succeeded at being affordable, but not so well at being cohousing.

A few of the major reasons:

o As a subsidized affordable housing project, residents were chosen
by lottery after proving they met low/moderate income requirements -- NOT by
their interest in cohousing. So the intentionality that is baked into most
of our communities was missing.

o Many people who qualify for housing subsidies have more challenges
in their lives (single parents, disability,  mental health issues, and of
course not a lot of money) than the majority of us in "traditional"
cohousing, which translates into challenges regarding the amount of
participation & planning the typical cohousing community requires.

o HUGE diversity, beyond what I've seen in any other cohousing
community. Some folks were low-income because they were off-the-grid artist
hippy types, but had middle class educations, values, assumptions, and
entitlement; others because they came from generational poverty. NO shared

Many of the folks who came due to low income thought this was the most
beautiful, friendly, amazing place they’d ever lived. Many of those who came
because they knew about cohousing were extremely disappointed because they
did not have as much agency/decision-making power as they thought they ought
to have. (Remember, this was a rental and folks came in after construction
was done. They wanted to be in charge of things the way the rest of us are
in our communities…and much of that is NOT available in the affordable
housing context.)


Eris Weaver, FrogSong cohousing in Cotati, CA
Graphic Facilitator & Group Process Consultant
eris [at] 707-338-8589

"On days when you have no ideas at all, the best thing you can do is start
doodling." Charles M. Schulz

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