Re: Governance & Income Inequality [ was Common house design, rooms, and room sizes?
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2015 05:12:00 -0800 (PST)
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

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)


On Thursday, February 12, 2015, Elizabeth Magill <pastorlizm [at]>

> 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]
> <javascript:;>> 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]
> <javascript:;>> 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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