Re: Affordable housing
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2016 08:29:01 -0700 (PDT)
Ingram Paperny wrote: (Subj: Re: Affordable unit for sale)
( )

>John and co, This demonstrates one of the reasons for the
>difficulty co housing has in connecting with economically diverse and
>potentially interested cohousingniks. $300 + per sq. foot! Ingram Paperny

Ingram quoted 2 messages about cohousing units for sale in California where
housing costs are very high. Below are excerpts from those messages
and below that is my summary and comments:

> Subject: [C-L]_ Affordable unit for sale (Southside Park  in Sacramento)

> selling our 820 sq ft upstairs flat diagonal from the common house in
> Southside Park Cohousing in Sacramento for the same reason - moved to a
> larger home in same coho community because our family expanded. The price is
> $269k. Info at 418 T Street on

> Subject: [C-L]_ affordable unit for sale at FrogSong (Cotati, CA)!

> ... selling a two-bedroom unit here at FrogSong. This is  unprecedented
> - so far none of the smallest units have gone up for  sale!
> This sunny, two-bedroom, one-bath cohousing townhome for sale is part
> of the Frog Song Cohousing Community in Cotati, CA. It is an 871
> square-foot upstairs flat next door to the Common House. It is part of
> the City of Cotati's Affordable Housing/Inclusionary Zoning program,
> which means that it has certain restrictions regarding price and the
> income level of the buyer-qualified buyers therefore have a smaller
> pool of people to compete with. For more information about this home,

Summary of these two housing and the markets they are in:

Frog Song Community / Cotati, CA
(Listing price) #359,392  871 Sq Ft  $412/sq ft
Max Gross 2 person HH Income 79,300
HOA fee $279/month which includes most utilities, maint. and reserve
Sonoma County Av listing price: $949,000 Median sales price: not avail.

Southside Park Cohousing / Sacramento, CA
(Listing price) $269k 820 sq ft   $320/sq ft
(I did not see any income limits)
HOA fee $333/month which includes common house and all City utilities
Sacramento County Av listing price: $358,413  Median sales price: $310,000
Southside Park nbhd prices:
    listing: $457,000     Median sales: $503,000   per sqft:  $259

California Av listing price: $642,396    Median sales price $430,000

For comparison here are a few selected state's housing prices:
                     listing     median sales
California           $642,396    $430,000
Colorado             $509,956    $325,000   (source: trulia)
District Of Columbia $703,348    $549,900
Iowa                 $181,324    $213,500
Massachusetts        $552,297    $215,000
Minnesota            $275,547    $240,000
New York             $534,012    $425,000
North Carolina       $279,519    $185,500
Oregon               $384,309    $290,000
Washington           $370,200    $319,836

Sources: :

Fred's comments:
Comparing housing prices and "affordable" is tricky.  Housing prices vary
hugely from place to place. Location is a huge factor.  What is considered
affordable also varies greatly. Note that the chart above is averages.
Housing costs also vary greatly within states and within cities depending
on location.

Another huge factor behind housing costs is when the house was
purchased since prices tend to go up and up. If one lives in a house
that was purchased 40 years ago as I do, current prices look even
higher.  That is if you live in the same place for a long time it
tends to look more affordable over time till you move). But since
becoming part of cohousing in the US almost always involves buy a
house and cohousing is generally not immune to market forces (location
based land costs for example), the cost of of cohousing is based on
current prices.

Limited equity coops and land trusts are one approach to long term
affordability. The Frog Song unit for sale appears to have an
equity limit in place.

I would argue that the problem of cohousing cost is related to the
problem of the way the US housing market works.

Note that one could probably have affordable cohousing in areas where
housing costs are low - particularly if it were done in existing
housing structures.  But it would probably be difficult to find people
who wanted to live there.

My current approach (not accomplished yet :) to a pretty good solution
to these problems is a limited equity coop in a desireable area that
is not yet recognized as such and therefore still relatively low land
costs as well as a mix of size units inclucing some quite small units
(ala tiny houses).  See


I support Hillary Clinton for President. ( formerly Bernie Sanders)
Fred H. Olson  Minneapolis,MN 55411  USA        (near north Mpls)
     Email:        fholson at      612-588-9532
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