Re: Governance & Income Inequality [ was Common house design, rooms, and room sizes?
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2015 05:18:49 -0800 (PST)
Ug.  I should not try to do mental arithmetic before coffee.  Our HOA
budget is 5x our cohousing budget.

On Friday, February 13, 2015, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]> 

> As much as I hate to disagree with my dear friend Liz, as the bookkeeper
> and budgeteer allow me to...clarify.
> Other than landscaping (which I would really like to move into the regular
> HOA budget) all the standard condo expenses are in our HOA budget, which
> includes all the stuff Liz mentions, AND heating the common house,
> maintenance of all paths, exteriors, interior and exterior of the common
> house, insurance, legal expenses, etc.  Other than that darn anomalous
> landscaping, the cohousing budget is really optional.
> Some things would get a little awkward...cohousing dues pay for the
> electricity for the hot tub, which if you suddenly stopped heating it would
> freeze and be damaged, so you'd have to drain it, things like that.
> I've been one of the main people deciding which things go into which
> budget, and (other than landscaping) it comes down to this: if we stopped
> having a cohousing budget, we'd end up just a regular condo...fully
> functional but without the extras that make cohousing what it is.  That's
> the criteria I use.
> (Well...I mean money wise. Obviously we would still have neighborliness
> and consensus and all that.  The true hurt of cohousing is the community,
> not money.)
> As a budgeteer, I don't try to "push as much as we can into the cohousing
> budget".  In fact, I'd really really like to get landscaping into the HOA
> Budget so that we really honestly could say that the cohousing budget is
> optional.  It didn't happen this year because 1, for personal reasons I
> didn't have the energy to push it, and 2, we saw a sharp hike in HOA fees
> this year and no one really wanted to make that worse than it was. Next
> year, if I have the focus and will to live, I will bring it up again.
> (For the record, our HOA budget is about 8 times what our cohousing budget
> is.  If you are really curious, I'd be happy to share the budgets...they
> aren't confidential)
> Diana
> On Thursday, February 12, 2015, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','pastorlizm [at]');>> wrote:
>> Technical answer: there is a document with "percentage interest" that
>> decides our HOA dues. It just happens to exactly match the percentage
>> pricing of the ORIGINAL sale price of the homes offered by the
>> developer. It is mostly square footage, but also how close to the
>> common house, whether affordable, and magic, as best I can tell.
>> Percentage interest isn't REALLY based on the price, it really went
>> the other way around. And many homes have sold for different prices on
>> the open market, this is not relevant to percentage interest.
>> Coho dues to HOA dues...well, not sure that is possible to answer!
>> Since a 4BR has $600 or so HOA and my small 3BR has $400 or so HOA and
>> 2Br and 1BR lower, and "affordable" even lower... and the coho is
>> average $94. So different for everyone, eh?
>> Coho vs HOA bills...we reallly push as much as possible into coho. But
>> building reserve and repiars is HOA, out water system is HOA, our
>> waste system is HOA, snow plowing (we've had A LOT OF THAT) is HOA. Oh
>> and road maintenance is HOA. I can't' remember if the interior paths
>> are HOA or Coho....
>> But yes not-very optional items are coho. Which means its a sliding
>> scale fund that decides whether we leave the common house warm all the
>> time so it is welcoming or cold all the time so it is inexpensive.
>> Insurance? I don'[t actually know... but it is possible that that is
>> actually at the Sawyerhill level, covering our two different
>> communities? (We really are MUCH more complicated than I described!!!)
>> The coho dues look like the left side of a random events chart, with
>> the highest number at the middle and more and more folk as you
>> increase the payment. Then there are a few outlyers at the top, above
>> the average, more in close to the average. This year is the first year
>> we've SHARED that chart, it'll be itnerested to see if that changes
>> the pledges of the outlyers.
>> Liz
>> On Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 10:38 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]>
>> wrote:
>> >
>> > A technical question, and a political one:
>> >
>> > Technical: When you say home price, you mean price at the date of first
>> sale, first occupancy?  Or, do you end up re-adjusting the ratios according
>> to current market activity?  (At Cornerstone, “share of community”, or
>> "percent interest”, is pegged to square footage, not to an artificially
>> suppressed or volatile market value …)
>> >
>> > Political: Based on your experience …
>> >      (1) What’s the typical ratio of cohousing dues to HOA dues?  1:2?
>> 1:5?  What?
>> >      (2) What kind of common expenses are NOT in the cohousing dues?
>> E.g., you see cleaning the common house as “optional", but what about
>> heating it?  Or roofing it?  Or insuring it?  Is your community website
>> optional?
>> >      (3) What’s the typical distribution of voluntary payments?  Almost
>> everyone at 100%?  A few at 100%, with many others a little below?
>> Variable from year to year?  What?
>> >
>> > RPD
>> >
>> >> On Feb 10, 2015, at 9:44 AM, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]>
>> wrote:
>> >>
>> >> We have both HOA dues and Cohousing dues. HOA dues are based on the
>> share a household has of the community, and that is based on home price,
>> and thus the HOA dues are less for the affordable homes.
>> >>
>> >> Then the cohousing dues are sliding scale. We put into the cohousing
>> all "optional" items, the washer dryer, the furniture in the common house,
>> the hottub maintenance, ch cleaning, etc. We calculate the average each
>> year and people pledge what they can pay... the minimum pledge is 5% of the
>> average. If we come in short we either ask folk to increase their pledge or
>> we cut something from the budget. So far so good, but we are new at this
>> (going on six years I think.)
>> >>
>> >> And then our meals program is pay for the meals you sign up for. That
>> team is presently discussing creating a "good neighbor fund" for the
>> occasional person who has accrued a balance and has reported they are
>> unable to pay.
>> >>
>> >> The state program we used is "moderate affordability" so those homes
>> were priced for people who make 80% of the area median income. Many room
>> for rent folk make less than that.
>> >>
>> >> Honestly we've agreed from the beginning that being financially
>> diverse was one of our goals. Even people who can afford better things are
>> always asking if we are keeping our expenses affordable for everyone in the
>> group. We have issues as to whether we really have equal participation, but
>> the line is not based on money...
>> >>
>> >> We worried about this issue before move-in but our experience has been
>> that the financial differences between us are really not the fault lines.
>> >>
>> >> -Liz
>> >> (The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
>> >> <>
>> >> <>
>> >> 508-450-0431
>> >
>> > _________________________________________________________________
>> > Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> --
>> -Liz
>> (The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
>> Worcester Fellowship
>> 508-450-0431
>> _________________________________________________________________
>> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

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