Re: Regarding Affordability in Cohousing
From: Gayle Alston (
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2016 05:22:26 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Virgil;

I am also an old hippie at heart... I am also a true Christian (or I aspire
to be) meaning love, forgiveness and tolerance as Jesus taught instead of
these horrific polices and attitudes upheld by Southern Baptist and the
like. And I'm all about the evolution of consciousness on which I believe
humanity is teetering on the brink.

I really love the idea of having some income producing opportunities and
bringing together seniors with young families for co-support (like my
parents had raising their family practically within shouting distance to
both sets of my grandparents)  I'm beginning to think the model I have in
mind is not really co-housing as well.  I am really wanting to establish a
tribe.  I do not want to sell my property, it's family property and that
means something to me.  I want to make these rooms available and the common
area living and recreational areas... but ideally I would collect enough
rent to cover the loan i have to take out to rehab, to cover taxes and
operational expenses, and to contribute a little bit to my a retirement
income.  I am not sure how to set this up with just ten units keeping it
cheap enough for people who are basically living on social security checks.

But I am just at the beginning of it all.

thank you for your input!

On Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 7:27 PM, Virgil Huston <virgil.huston1955 [at]>

> Gayle,
> I like this idea. I have the grand visions of a multigenerational
> community that has young families all the way to hospice and
> everything in between, where elders are valued and may be productive
> as long as possible, as well as being taken care of when that time
> comes. Helping with children while the young adults help with sick and
> infirm, for example. Being teachers in homeschool situations (or after
> school) while parent(s) work, like a hamlet in old Europe (these were
> more extended families I guess). You can buy entire villages in Spain
> and hamlets all over Europe. I don't think this is really cohousing as
> I understand it. It has many aspects of commune, but each unit has its
> own living space. I see much more required working and eating and
> hanging out together. Including even enterprises on the place where
> members make a living. This could also make it affordable. Not sure
> what this model might be. I have followed this list a long time and I
> see cohousing as more of a gated community country club style thing
> than a "real" community. I do not mean to offend by this, different
> strokes for different folks, and I might be misunderstanding. I liked
> a shared interest concept, too. I am an old(er) hippie and my wife and
> I are pretty isolated. I would love a place to live where it would be
> cool to get together to couchsurf a Dead and Company show, have a
> small stage where people can jam, etc. There are many variations of
> the special interest thing.
> Cheers,
> Virgil
> On Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 11:35 AM, Lynne Markell <lmarkell [at]>
> wrote:
> >
> > Good advice.  Form the group first and learn how to work together. If
> you decide to form a co-op, you might be able to get more help as
> co-operatives helping co-operatives is one the main principles.
> > Don't be the "owner", instead be the "organizer" or the instigator.
> > If you find that there is not enough interest or skill to have the
> residents manage  the housing, think about other organizations that could
> partner with you to make it happen.
> > Good luck.
> >
> > Lynne Markell,
> > Lmarkell [at]
> > (613) 842-5222
> >
> >
> >
> >> On Aug 23, 2016, at 9:45 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at] 
> >>>
> wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>> On Aug 22, 2016, at 9:49 AM, Gayle Alston <galston1954 [at]>
> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> This idea around affordability is very near to my heart.  I have hopes
> of
> >>> converting a 1960's cement block motel into a solo senior cohousing
> >>> property in a small (pop 150) town in rural south Georgia.  My
> thinking is
> >>> that each person will have a room that is rehabbed with a murphy bed,
> >>> living area, frig/micro/toaster.  Common area will include a home
> theater
> >>> and cafe and 35 acres of wooded area with a fairly extensive raised bed
> >>> gardening operation.
> >>
> >> This sounds very nice. Check with senior cohousing communities about
> what you will need in the long run.
> >>
> >>> I am also considering opening up the front section of
> >>> my nearby (100 yds) home for common area so people can use the kitchen,
> >>> dining room, and den.
> >>
> >> This is the only thing that makes me pause. Some communities with
> members who have a different living situation have difficulties with
> supposed power and privilege issues. And it does make it different for you.
> You could feel out of things and be treated like “the owner” even when you
> are not.
> >>
> >> Avoid being the sole developer. Form a group as soon as possible so you
> aren’t the only founder.
> >>
> >>> I would like to make it available to seniors like me... who are happily
> >>> solo but may not have planned so well for retirement so have limited
> >>> monthly incomes.
> >>
> >> I repeat, make your cost parameters clear from the outset. Construction
> costs escalate very easily. The list of people who have found themselves
> priced out of cohousing after working with a group for months and years is
> long.
> >>
> >>> I would like to intentionally recruit members who will
> >>> bring different skills for the ongoing development of the property for
> the
> >>> good of all.
> >>
> >> Skills are important. That is your human capital. But it has to be done
> carefully so as not to intimidate prospective cohousers.
> >>
> >> After we moved in, I realized how much the skills of the individuals
> who live here makes a difference in how the community develops. We have
> from the beginning, for example, lacked a person who could manage the
> kitchen. It requires both organizational and people skills. While we have a
> large workshop, we are lacking a person who works there often and will also
> manage the tools and clean up. Set some expectations and remind people to
> pay attention to them.
> >>
> >> Sharon
> >> ----
> >> Sharon Villines
> >> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
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