Re: Low-cost Cohousing
From: Grace Kim (
Date: Mon, 4 May 2020 18:18:05 -0700 (PDT)
I think the question is why low-cost?  While I understand that lower cost homes 
is what allows for income diversity, that stems from idea that everyone has to 
pay the same cost/sf for their home.  I think affordability and low-cost are at 
times two different sides of a coin.

To achieve affordability, not only do there need to be low/moderate income 
households who need/want these homes, but collective intention - like 
everything else in cohousing. But people who can afford, but want their homes 
to cost less, that's a different priority/need that should not be conflated 
with affordability (which is federally defined as no more than 30% of household 
income should be spent on housing). I understand that people want to spend far 
less than 30%, but if that's the measure/value. Its hard to have any other 
priority remain in light of that.

Community intention (not just altruistic "we will feel good if we can do this") 
will help everyone hold that value while still trying to balance other project 

In WA state, we build affordable housing (for low/moderate income households) 
to high sustainability standards.  But that means we don't build this housing 
as cheaply as possible. We recognize that the non-profit housing operators will 
not be making significant improvements/upgrades every 7-10 years, so the 
quality of what is being built from day 1 is actually higher than market rate 
housing in our area.

When you are talking about buying a house - where a big priority is about lower 
home purchase price versus higher values as a community (like income diversity, 
racial diversity, sustainability) gets harder for individuals to justify 
to themselves why they might want to help subsidize another household or to 
prioritize that similar to/over sustainability measures.

I also think there needs to be a paradigm shift in people's behavior. "I want 
to install solar panels because they look cool/demonstrate my responsibility to 
the planet" doesn't make sense when viewed in opposition to "I don't want to 
change my behavior to reduce the my environmental footprint" - i.e., turning 
off lights, reducing phantom loads, minimizing car trips, minimizing flying, 
upgrading building envelope and windows vs. spending money on solar panels.

These are hard decisions and priorities to juggle or hold in tension/balance.
But I think it helps to be really clear about what values are held as a 
community intention.

grace h. kim aia | schemata workshop, inc.
pronouns: she/her

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seattle wa 98122
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Date: Mon, 4 May 2020 05:20:20 +0000 (UTC)
From: Brian Bartholomew <bartholomew.brian [at]>

 > what group of potential cohousers will take advantage of this?

There are plenty of "homeless" people who already are able to afford a
tiny amount of home in the form of tent cities. But it's illegal for
them to rent porta-potties, or build a shared toilet/shower building
like a camping area. Illegal, not 'costs too much'. Soon there will
be more homeless, after people who have been banned from working for a
few months are evicted from their homes and cars by bankruptcy.

Cost is a Red Herring. It was never about cost, it was about legal
prohibitions. It only appeared like cost because cohousing
self-developers could hire architects and real estate lawyers and so
forth to press their case.


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