Re: [affordablecohousing] Excitement this weekend about the possibilities of low cost cohousing
From: Michael Kaiser-Nyman (
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2021 13:18:22 -0700 (PDT)
I'm going to bump the 20k Home project again:

These are real houses that have been built for several years now, not
high-tech gimmicks that feel like living in a sterile box, or prototypes
that don't actually exist. Last year they got a $450k investment from
Fannie Mae to help them start construction in 4 regions:

They note that "making a single-family home affordable is a classic wicked
problem, with tentacles that reach into all aspects of the economy. The
team found issues with credit... the mortgage market... permitting and
zoning, and the process of hiring and using a contractor. There were also
all of the secondary costs that come after purchasing a house, from
insurance costs and maintenance to energy use."

On Sun, Jun 6, 2021 at 6:14 PM Sharon Villines via <sharon= [at]> wrote:

> While browsing the web last week I came upon cottages, communities often
> near beaches that were half vacation homes and half a good way to make use
> of highly prized land. Friday I did a blog post on it:
> It was like a breath of fresh air.
> I had started investigating low-cost cohousing by looking at construction
> materials and techniques. Fairly quickly I discovered that there are many,
> many very stable and long lasting construction techniques that are cost
> effective. The core problem is out-dated construction codes and
> exclusionary zoning that prohibits using them inside the city limits. And
> people need to be in the city for jobs and schools and sewer systems.
> I attended a three day ReBuild conference on regenerative villages. But
> the key interest there seems to be high tech — large high rises in the
> country to maximize land use. One presentation was on a village in a high
> rise of glass with its own food production in hydroponic gardens hanging
> from the ceiling. Huge expensive experiments requiring equally huge
> investments and expert systems design. Not something a group of 30
> normally-skilled people could put together in any reasonable length of
> time. It was a curious mix of engineers wanting to go back to nature and
> take high-tech with them.
> Technology dependent living (beyond laptops and medical breakthroughs) is
> not what I'm interested in writing about or encouraging. I want a roof I
> can fix myself and plumbing that is obvious. (I have still avoided getting
> involved with the cloud.)
> But just hearing the word “cottages" brought back memories of wandering
> along boardwalks to go to the ocean through a dense maze of small Victorian
> cottages on Fire Island. Or a New Jersey beach with little houses tucked
> away in the sand dunes, some (photogenically) falling down. Enclaves of
> brightly colored little fairy cottages all in a row. And chaotic
> assemblages near fishing lakes and streams where families have built over
> the years by slipping in another little building or two to accommodate
> another generation.
> Memories of communities in cites that are tucked away inside ornamental
> iron gates that were once estates and are now intriguing clusters of small
> city condos. Pocket gardens but with houses.
> What would the response be to a cohousing community that looked like the
> small cottage communities on Martha’s Vineyard and a million other places.
> Would a town board or a neighborhood be more welcoming to a “village of
> cottages” than to rather conventional multi-family housing? Would it be
> economical? Economical enough.
> I’ve been testing an idea with people this week, a totally random survey
> of people I happened to come in contact with. Their reactions have been the
> same as mine — positive associations with individual homes that are
> supposed to be small and huddled together.
> I’m not talking about the nineteenth-century grand camps built in the
> Adirondack Mountains in upper New York state to which families brought
> their maids. Or the one available now in Newport, Rhode Island: 6,000 SF
> with 15 bedrooms, 10.2 bathrooms, and 2.5 acres of land for $19 million.
> (The price is probably not negotiable. And the .2 bathroom is curious.)
> An enclave of cottages in a city is a romantic idea but so is cohousing.
> It’s the romance that brings the power of a dream. In sociocracy the first
> level of building a vision-mission-aim statement is the dream. Things start
> with dreams—they bring energy.
> One of the features I noticed that makes pictures of cottage communities
> is that they look like lived in places built by human hands. They have
> trees and (tiny) flower and herb gardens. A community a bit set off by
> itself amidst trees so it isn’t competing with the neighboring
> mini-McMansions. There are also lots of pictures of completed cottage
> communities that can be used as examples for town boards and neighbors. I
> think people would understand "a cottage community like those near an
> ocean.” it evokes cozy and friendly without the specter of hippies running
> around naked or housing projects with rats and muddy grounds.
> Does that make sense to anyone else? Do you see it as doable? Even
> possibly doable?
> The blog post has pictures:
> Sharon
> ———
> Sharon Villines, Editor & Publisher
> Affordable Housing means 30% of household income
> Cohousing means self-developed, self-governed, self-managed
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