|How to attract more children||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)|
|Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2021 13:43:56 -0700 (PDT)|
The most common question from new cohousing communities has got to be how do we attract more families? Which is code for households with children. Takoma Village is almost 21 years old and I’m asking the same question. For many years we had an average of 20 children in a wide age range. The last members of that cohort are now off to college or becoming participating members of the community as adults. We had a child deficit for several years but because of large turnover we now have a very few new children. With 20 children kids form packs and one group or another is always racing over to someone else’s house or the whole group is hanging out together outside somewhere. Without a cluster of similar aged children, they are neither racing nor hanging out. Partly because of the pandemic but not totally, the children are more likely to be inside in groups of 2 or alone, or at playdates, school, or whatever. (One is still in a crib.) I’ve been very happy lately to have found some books on the economy that are clear about the direction we need to go and economists who are actively involved in getting us there. (Mariana Mazzucato is a key person.) The last book I picked up was recommended by several people as the guy who can explain where we are, how we got here, and the direction things are going. Bill Gates is a big fan. Grand Transitions: How the World was Made by Vaclav Smil https://amzn.to/3zjzx64 In general I’m on the side of we have too many people to sustain ourselves on the earth. And he confirms that we are not headed in a good direction. All the figures he presents have downside that he isn’t discussing but in cohousing makes a big difference — we are not going to have more children. Unless we move to sub-Saharan Africa where the average number of children for each woman is close to 5 children, we have as much as we are going to get. There are no demographic changes going in the direction of more kids. For cohousing, this means re-think. The highest birthrate in the US is for the lowest income earners — probably a correlation there since supporting children is expensive and women with children are discriminated against in the workplace — but still it is true. If we want more children (or even a few children) we need to build housing that is affordable for the people who have the children. People who are most likely to even want children are significantly below the median income level and couldn’t afford a cohousing unit that is above the median cost of housing. The other problem is that those with higher incomes have children at ever older ages. People who have one child at the age of 38 are not likely by choice or accident to have 2 or 3 more. One is often the limit whether birthed or adopted. I’m not a statistician so I can't roll out quotable numbers but a home costing $500,000 might require an annual income of $100,000+. The median income in the US in 2019 was ~$70,000. Our unit prices are wiping out more than 50% of the population as prospective buyers and also limiting the number of women of child-bearing age. Unless we begin doing something very differently, the image we have of cohousing isn’t going to work. We want diverse, child-filled, sustainable communities, but are building units at the prices guaranteed to defeat our purposes. I totally understand why this happens and that no one planned it this way. It isn't anyone’s distorted personality that is behind this. But to change it, Vaclav Smil is saying we need a new plan. Sharon ——— Sharon Villines, Editor & Publisher https://affordablecohousing.com “Affordable" means housing costs 30% of household income “Cohousing" means self-developed, self-governed, self-managed
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