affordable cohousing and community land trusts
From: Philip W. Bush (Philip.W.BushDartmouth.EDU)
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2001 12:01:01 -0600 (MDT)
--- Amanda wrote:
What have folks out there done to try to make their cohousing communities 
affordable to a wide range 
of incomes? 
--- end of quote ---
At Cobb Hill in VT we made a few units affordable by subsidy (3, it turns out), 
when it became clear that we couldn't keep overall costs affordable. This was 
accomplished by work with a state agency (Vermont Housing Conservation Board 
-VHCB) and local land trust (Upper Valley Land Trust-UVLT), and two very 
generous private donors building on the agency contributions.  

We own about 280 acres of ag and forest land.  We sold the development rights 
to UVLT, which used a $120,000 grant from VHCB for the purchase.  VHCB was 
generous because they liked it that we use the conservation funds for 
affordable meeting both parts of their own mission -- housing and conservation 
-- in one transaction, apparently a rarity.  VHCB added another $20,000 per 
unit from their affordable housing funds for each household/unit that met a 
<85% median family income requirement.  For a number of reasons too complex to 
go into it looks like we will have one such unit, so $140,000 total from 

Two private donors added another $220,000 to the affordable housing fund.  It 
takes all $360,000 to bring just three units to affordable prices.  We 
recognize that we will need to make these units affordable over time, also, by 
discounts on monthly operating fees, for example.

Most of this work was done by Donella Meadows before her untimely death in 
February.  She cared very much about making some units at Cobb Hill affordable. 
 Clearly her national reputation and contacts were as important as her hard 
work in pulling this off.  The combination of rural land to protect for $, a 
state agency interested in both housing and conservation, and the fund raising 
ability of someone like Dana is a unique combination that can't be replicated 
everywhere.  Maybe pieces can be.  Probably a generalization is that something 
can be done with hard work, creativity, and asking the right people.

Phil Bush
Cobb Hill
Hartland, VT
see houses going up now on the snowy, muddy hillside at:
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