Re: Regarding Affordability in Cohousing
From: Tiffany Lee Brown (
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2016 10:31:25 -0700 (PDT)
I love listening in on these conversations having to do with building tribe, 
and being open to models beyond cohousing. My fantasy community housing space 
is definitely multigenerational! "Cradle to grave" and "seed to table" all in 
one. :-) 

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could raise your family in a three-bedroom house 
on a couple acres that are your own, while also sharing common land, gardens, 
barn, art studios, creative entrepreneurial spaces too? Then when the kids 
graduate, downsize to a townhouse or retirement cabin in the same community, 
without your own acreage this time? And what if there were a real retirement 
home with assisted living on this land as well, where you could end your days, 
still on your shared land and among your community?

What if there were legal structures to facilitate this way of thinking? What if 
revenue was built into your community, ways for residents to make money from 
the land and buildings? What if your early investment in time, energy, 
community work, and money was somehow bankable in the form of points you could 
draw from when you were older and no longer able to build as much?

All you dreaming Boomers: keep in mind that the Millennials, a baby boom 
generation like yourselves, are getting to the age where they want to buy land, 
and start families. There is plenty of research showing that this generation 
desires community and sustainability, and also note that they are less averse 
to capitalism than the hippie generation. What ever structure you end up 
pursuing, you might consider actively reaching out to members of the millennial 
generation. They are quite literally the future.

-Tiffany in Oregon
(A GenX'er)

Sent from the far shores of a distant land

> On Aug 24, 2016, at 5:22 AM, Gayle Alston <galston1954 [at]> wrote:
> 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!
> Gayle
> On Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 7:27 PM, Virgil Huston <virgil.huston1955 [at] 
> wrote:
>> 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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