Re: Affordability- Habitat may help
From: Lynn Nadeau (welcomeolympus.net)
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 19:45:30 -0700 (MST)
We were in a bind at RoseWind Cohousing. We wanted more of our 
memberships to include lower-income people, but by failing to calculate 
some costs that accrued over the years on the lots we hadn't yet sold, 
found ourselves in a position where our last lots --- our last chance for 
some "affordable" arrangement--- seemed like if anything they would have 
to be overpriced, to bring us to a total break-even on the project. 

We made a deal with Habitat for Humanity, in effect giving them two lots. 
The cost of the two lots was covered by donations from members who could 
afford to subsidize that. I particular, one elderly member donated a 
large chunk of it. 

I propose that you get into dialogue with your nearest branch of Habitat 
for Humanity. Where the money for the building site comes from, can vary, 
from partial or total purchase by HH, to partial or total subsidy from 
your own members, or any other source. 
But once the deal is in place, Habitat is the one that has to do all the 
paperwork and make all the arrangements. The fortunate recipients end up 
with a home that costs them (here)  about $50,000 in the form of an 
interest-free mortgage, with payments that are very low. 

We made a contract that stipulated that we could "front" one of the 
families, from our list of interested cohousing applicants, subject to 
them qualifying for HH's rather elaborate criteria. Habitat would come up 
with the other family, but with the stipulation that the family have 
enough exposure to us -- social, meeting, work party or such--- to be 
able to make an informed decision that they wanted cohousing, and that 
they have a choice of cohousing or "regular" Habitat housing (so nobody 
would take the deal just because they wanted HH, not because they really 
wanted cohousing).  So far, it looks like we know who the families will 
be, and they are wonderful. Unlike some other arrangements, once the 
families are chosen, we have nothing further to do with the financial 
side. These families will be like other members, just having some help 
getting a house financed and built. 

Every group would have to work out the particulars,  but it was an 
interesting exercise (as we learned that HH wasn't too "churchy" for us, 
and that we weren't opening ourselves up to some sort of stereotype 
low-life; and HH learned that we were neither a snobby yuppie gated 
community, nor barefoot hippies in tipis and love beads), and it has 
increased our diversity. 

Lynn Nadeau
Port Townsend WA
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