Re: affordable housing
From: Lynne MARKELL (
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2019 09:34:24 -0800 (PST)
Thanks Philip for your perspective.
You have mentioned another alternative that has not come up in this discussion 
- congregate  suites.
I think the idea of a group of people collectively owning a suite/apartment/ 
house provides a way to reduce the cost for each person. Each owner would have 
their own bedroom and bathroom, and share the kitchen, living room, laundry, 
etc. They would have their own legal arrangement re ownership and the cohousing 
group would treat them like regular members. It is really 
"co-living" within cohousing!

It would work well for singles, family members, or any other combination.
The cohousing group would design it the unit, based on the interest of their 
members (perhaps only one per project) and sell it as a unit.
We considered this for our project and there was some interest. We did not get 
to the design stage at that time, but were prepared to do a conceptual design, 
so we could then offer it to people who wanted a cheaper way to live in 
In Canada, there is a lot of interest in the Golden Girls housing - 3-5 women 
sharing a house. This would be the same and marketable within the cohousing 
concept of community, common house, etc.
Does anyone know if a group has done this yet?

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

> On Dec 31, 2019, at 9:50 AM, R Philip Dowds alt addr via Cohousing-L 
> <cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
> Fair enough:  In an ideal imaginary America, we would not have such extremes 
> of inequality of wealth and income.  We would instead be using progressive 
> taxation to sustain a robust public sector where a trip to the hospital or a 
> college education does not push so many of us to the brink of insolvency 
> (never mind trying to figure out how to pay for a house or a car).
> But this is not the America we live in, and to deal with the challenges of 
> today, right now, we usually end up juggling sub-optimal “solutions”.  In our 
> less-than-ideal America, cohousing communities and developers do have a few 
> tools for making cohousing more available to lower-income households.  These 
> include incorporating a diversity of unit types, including rentals; 
> collaboration with (very modest) federal and state subsidy programs; transfer 
> payments internal to the project/community; and specialized design and 
> construction alternatives like modular homes, tiny houses, congregate suites, 
> and sweat equity applied to semi-finished units.
>       I would never argue against any of these options for mitigating the 
> consequences of extreme inequality.  We all do the best we can in the moment 
> in which we live.  Just keep in mind that you’re treating the symptoms, not 
> the causes, of the disease.
> Not sure I want to be classified as a snob.
> Thanks,
> Philip Dowds
> Cornerstone Cohousing
> Cambridge, MA
>> On Dec 31, 2019, 9:32 AM -0500, Sara Wye via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at] 
>>>, wrote:
>> as someone looking for housing under 100,000 i don't find this very helpful:
>>> I will say again:  We do NOT have an ?affordable housing? problem.  What we 
>>> have is a serious income inequality problem.  Trying to create affordable 
>>> housing by cheapening the product ? and cheapening it within the paradigm 
>>> of the stand-alone single family dwelling ? simply leads us further into 
>>> the dead ends of the unsatisfactory (?mobile? homes) and the absurd (tiny 
>>> houses).  If we combined more multi-family zoning with the progressive tax 
>>> structure that served America so well in the ?50?s and ?60?s, the 
>>> affordable housing problem would pretty much solve itself."
>> the income inequality problem is a lot longer term issue than the immediate 
>> need for community that is affordable.  i don't find tiny houses or mobile 
>> homes absurd at all.  i would not consider these 'cheapening the product'.  
>> i have seen beautiful mobile homes and would consider living in one if they 
>> would allow me to continue working in my home.  i am a 75 year old mental 
>> health counselor. and as someone who has been looking for affordably 
>> community for many years, these remarks feel like snobbery to me.   i saw 
>> not too long ago a group of small if not tiny homes built by a group of 
>> friends, a cluster of 8-10 homes, so they could form their own community.  i 
>> admit i am not educated about the cost of buying land and building but if 
>> they can do it, it can be done.
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