Re: Regarding Affordability in Cohousing
From: Lynne Markell (
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 2016 11:54:38 -0700 (PDT)
We are planning a seniors cohousing project in Ottawa, Ontario and are 
committed to the principle of affordability.  
One way we plan to do this is by using an equity co-operative structure  that 
has a limitation on the resale price of shares ( not market value, but a 
smaller gain) so that over time our units become more affordable.  The first 
buyers  pay almost the same as market because of new construction costs in a 
city, but over time the share prices will be lower than condos and more 
moderate and fixed income seniors can live there.

The second way is to have a portion of the units be rental and find ways to 
have some reduced rents, through member loans, outside investors, grants, or 
municipal government concessions.  A recent cohousing project in Manitoba had 
the provincial and municipal governments provide various subsidies to reduce 
housing costs. In this one, the local credit union provided favourable 
financing as well.

It is not easy, but our philosophy is that by having senior homeowners carry 
most of the project, we can enable some more modest housing charges for some.  
People will be community members no matter what and have equal rights.  

The key is putting aside the desire to make money on your housing.  Instead we 
need to look at our new housing as buying a collective and supportive 
lifestyle. We will need to get our capital out as we move to the next stage, 
but in the meanwhile, we will be getting our money's worth through aging in 

Lynne Markell, 
Lmarkell [at]
(613) 842-5222

> On Aug 20, 2016, at 2:25 PM, Joyce Cheney <jcheneyjc [at]> wrote:
> I agree with Angela that it's honest to state that most cohousing IS
> expensive. Certainly much of cohousing is comparable to other housing in
> the same area -- but comparable to high end housing there! And don't forget
> the monthly fees, with in my research end up being higher than most
> condo/neighborhood fees.  There *are *a few more affordable places (look
> for limited equity coops rather than private ownership of units and for
> locations where the cost of living is lower, but even in those
> locations...) Yes, it's a great way to live, AND it's for those with higher
> incomes or bigger retirement pensions/savings.  Joyce Cheney
> On Sat, Aug 20, 2016 at 11:14 AM, Angela Steiert <angie.steiert [at] 
> wrote:
>> I think it is safe to say that unless a community has subsidized a unit or
>> gotten section 8 housing approval, that most co-housing communities prices
>> put their members in a higher income bracket.  $230,000 & $250,000 is a lot
>> of money.  Someone would have to make at least $75,000 a year to pay that
>> mortgage and less than 15% of American's make that much money.  Therefore
>> only the top 15% of American's  are able to participate in a cohousing
>> community at those prices, which makes it a somewhat elitist entity.  I
>> live in a cohousing community and I did not pay that much money, but I was
>> quite shocked to see the majority of prices for communities when I was
>> hoping to join one. I am a teacher, and I find it quite sad to think that
>> most teacher's, unless they have two incomes in their homes, could not live
>> in a cohousing community.  There is really no easy answer to this, as I
>> have come to realize that most cohousing communities are private entities,
>> and that cohousing is in limited quantity in the US which makes it more
>> valuable. I do think we have to acknowledge the reality of cohousing in
>> America.  So, there are places out there with more reasonable prices, but
>> even those are probably too high for many Americans at the wages they
>> currently make.
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