Re: Truly affordable cohousing
From: John Faust (
Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 15:39:44 -0700 (PDT)
It is too bad that these threads that reach a threshold of interest and
information (e.g., affordable housing and accessibility) don't evolve into
wiki site articles. There, the discussion can be transformed into something
more meaningfully organized with the possibility that it becomes cohousing
knowledge and an evolving resource for others. The alternative is to rehash
these issues endlessly.

an example naively entered by myself on a previous listserv thread on
community-developer relationships. Someone with more experience would likely
have done a more competent summary and known better how to extend it. A list
of such issues could be located on this
When they mature into stable knowledge, then they can be moved to the
website knowledge base.

John Faust

On Fri, May 9, 2008 at 4:32 PM, Marganne <marganne [at]> wrote:

> Note: I apologize in advance if some of my post offends anyone. I
> feel strongly about this subject and often go overboard when
> discussing it.
> ---
> I've been away from the list for a while (stopped keeping up with
> reading). Over the years I've subscribed to this list, I've become
> disillusioned many times about accessibility to cohousing both
> physically and fiscally (couldn't pass that one up).
> People continue to think a $250,000 home (plus your share of the
> common house and membership) is affordable. Having been able bodied
> for most of my life, I am very sensitive to the subtly of eliminating
> possibilities for those of us with physical and/or mental
> disabilities living on fixed incomes.
> You are not uncaring people! There is much more expression of care
> for other people and the environment here than in many other groups.
> I suspect it's lack of direct experience. Prior to my illness, I was
> empathetic about affordable housing. My perspective changed when I
> had to stop working in my mid-40s.
> There are probably many, many more people like me who would like to
> live in a community environment of some sort, but lack the funds or
> capacity needed to get through the current admission gates of
> cohousing. Affordable cohousing could provide a way for people to
> pool their funds together with others to recreate homes they CAN
> afford (take my mortgage please!).
> I'm looking for help from those of you who are very creative and can
> think outside the affordability box. The last time I raised this
> question, several people asked that the discussion remain on this
> list. In glancing over some of the posts made in the prior 6 months,
> I saw one or two posts about affordability, but very little
> discussions followed.
> I have written to and called several cohousing projects in formation
> to get a feel for their affordability threshold. It's not an easy
> figure to find. A member of one of those projects asked me what I
> considered affordable. I said $150,000. He laughed and suggested I
> find a shipping crate to live in. (See links at end of this post.)
> True affordability can be a hard sell to folks who can afford to live
> in current cohousing. Most folks never would consider living in a
> shipping crate or something similar (modular homes, yurts).
> Profitability for architects and developers also might be an issue.
> Or perhaps there are examples I've missed? Converted trailer parks?
> Manufactured housing?
> Can some of you who are experienced in forming cohousing projects
> help here? Can cohousing be more accessible to 'the rest' of us? (Or
> maybe prove why it can't be done.)
> If you'd like to learn more about the Small House Movement, check the
> links from my blog, Cohousing, Small House Movement. There are many
> more options than container housing.
> Cheers!
> Marganne
> Cohousing, Small House Movement
> Shipping container living
> Generally, architects offer container homes for anywhere from $125 to
> $150 per sq. ft. There are container home kits from 1,000 to 3,000
> square feet. ... Adam Kalkin has sold a dozen of his ... Quik Houses,
> each based on five shipping containers. These are two-story,
> 2,000-square-foot homes with skylights and enormous glass windows,
> equipped with three bedrooms and two baths. The price, which ranges
> from $76,000 for the basic kit to $160,000 (with all the bells and
> whistles like a stainless-steel kitchen and mahogany doors), is under
> $100 per square foot, not including land or foundation. ... Used
> containers can be purchased for $1,500 to $2,500 ... a customized
> container with lighting, heating, insulation, and air conditioning,
> it could cost $7-13,000.
> Larger complexes of many shipping container units address the
> difficulty in providing high-density prefab housing. Like Spacebox
> (which reader Rob Kelley pointed out would be greener if made with
> containers), they can operate on a system of plug-and-play pods, with
> utilities in a central core rather than the living units themselves.
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