Re: Diversity
From: Dick Margulis (
Date: Sat, 4 Aug 2018 05:59:09 -0700 (PDT)
On 8/3/2018 9:43 PM, Hollie Butler wrote:

I'm sure this is a well-intentioned suggestion, but it's putting the
problem right onto people of color to solve. It's exactly our place as
white people to consider how we could make that come about. If the spirit
of the idea is meant to be, "It'd be nice to have more than one family of
color in a cohousing neighborhood, so they'd feel less alone," that's a
great sentiment, but how do we make that happen?

I don't quite agree (although I mostly agree). I don't think it's "our place as white people to . . . make that come about." That strikes me as a White Man's Burden argument, or maybe closer to noblesse oblige, like somehow only white people are smart enough to solve the problem. I'd much prefer to think all people of good will could work together on this.

All I have to go on is my experience in our group. One of the requirements imposed on us by the Connecticut Department of Housing, as a condition of their giving us a $2.6 million subsidy for affordable housing, was that we intentionally market "to those least likely to apply," which we were given to believe meant specifically blacks and Latin@s, never mind any other disadvantaged minorities. Now, from a business point of view--obviously--you don't want to spend precious marketing dollars on audiences least likely to respond to your message. But the state's interest is in fair housing, not developer profits, so they impose that condition.

Our understanding was that commercial developers do as little as they can to meet the minimum bureaucratic standard in complying with that requirement. But we embraced it and did what we could. We advertised in the local black newspaper and on black and Hispanic radio stations. We had booths at farmers' markets in parts of the city with minority populations. We did info sessions at branch libraries in those areas. (People attended and were interested.) If I recall correctly, we reached out to churches and church organizations, too, but I think that effort didn't actually gel. We went well beyond what the state asked of us, and we did so with some enthusiasm.

But even with the state subsidy and pricing five of our homes so they would theoretically be affordable by people earning 60% of area median income, they are still beyond the reach of economically disadvantaged people. We've had interest up to the point that someone looks at the income chart and realizes they're making 30-40% of area median income and just can't swing it.

We've also had a few people of color join our group. But the project has taken so long that they ended up moving on. One couple, still great friends of the project, couldn't keep putting off their marriage, and as soon as they married, they no longer qualified for an affordable home nor could they afford a market rate home. Another couple moved out of the area for a job. Others have felt they would be "the only" (even though that's not technically true) and have not wanted to cross that perceived boundary to take on a mortgage that would be a real stretch for them.

Anyway, I still feel that if we did an info session where, say, three black families attended, got excited about cohousing, and decided to all take the plunge together, that would be huge.

On the general topic of diversity, we do have a large contingent of LGBQT members. There doesn't seem to be any barrier on that axis.


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