|Re: seeking input on membership structure||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Becky Weaver (beckyweaverswbell.net)|
|Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2006 11:10:15 -0700 (PDT)|
Hi Jonnie, Kaleidoscope Village's developer has control of our land. Architectural plans are in progress. Our group has been in existence since January 2000, and we expect to move in starting in late 2007/early 2008. You can review our membership policies on our wiki starting at http://wikihost.org/wikis/cac/wiki/approvedpolicies. Scroll down to the "Member Application and Agreements" section for our equity member & associate member agreements. I highly recommend at least a two-tiered membership structure, requiring people to pay serious money (more than a few hundred bucks) to become an equity member. Practically speaking, you can't measure someone's commitment to the group any other way. Even though money is certainly not a perfect measure, it's much more real than a verbal commitment, and easier to quantify than a time commitment. Requiring a financial commitment also helps couples decide how serious *both* of them are about the community. It is not uncommon for only one person in a couple to be very interested in cohousing. The other person may not mind donating their partner's time, but might say a loud & clear "no" when it comes time to put down the cash and sign on the dotted line. If the inactive partner says yes, they're on-board to at least some extent. Also, if most of your units are going to be sold to buyers (instead of rented to renters), requiring an equity down-payment helps focus people on whether they are, or will be, genuinely able to buy a home. People can get so enamored with the idea of cohousing that they can be in denial about their finances. If a person finds they need to rent instead of buy, better for everybody to plan for that. I tried to say what I'm about to say before, in relation to dues/equity structure and family structure, but I got feedback from my community members that what I said was not what I meant. :-) What I'm about to say *only* applies to a pre-move-in community, where financial matters cannot be tied to physical buildings and other costs. OK; if you try to tie your financial requirements to family structures (singles/couples/families) you are making assumptions about what those family structures mean regarding personal finances and community contribution. And, in fact, family structure is *totally unrelated* to either ability to pay, or commitment to the project, or non-financial resources given to the community (volunteer work, knowledge, wisdom). This being the case, you *cannot* be fair no matter how hard you try. If your fees are low enough, that may not matter and you can probably get away with anything. If non-equity fees are a continual source of tension, maybe they're just too high. Make sure the vast majority of fees/investments ultimately get returned to the household in the form of a down payment credit or some other return with interest. Secondly; if you try to make policy around income/assets (sliding scale), you could be setting youself up for some extremely unconstructive discussions. Unless there are well-known, well-developed models already functioning in your larger community that you can adapt to your own purposes, I caution you against this approach. By opening the question of what's fair to charge each other, you are creating an environment where your life situation affects me financially, and my life situation affects you financially. People tend to respect each other's life decisions, until the day they're asked to subsidize them. Then suddenly, we can react very emotionally to another person's personal choices. Now, I'm not against emotion, but in this situation I don't see that the community gains anything by going there. It can do messy things to otherwise good relationships, and there are alternatives. So what are the alternatives? You can charge different fees based on expected home cost; let households choose which size home they're probably going to want, and pay a certain percentage accordingly. This gives individuals control over the financial decisions affecting them. You don't have to have exact home prices to do this; ballpark it & call it good enough. Another method is to set a minimum fee and ask for voluntary donations or investments over the minimum to meet goals. In this way, households also personally decide how much they can afford. Extra financial contributions are *appreciated,* not just expected from certain members. This prevents higher-income members from feeling like the community ATM, and allows lower-income members to control their financial obligations. Do not, do not, decide what other people "can afford" for them. In some affordable-housing situations that has to happen; in that case, let a bureaucracy do it for you. Hope this helps, Becky Weaver Kaleidoscope Village Austin, TX Jonnie Pekelny <jonniep [at] sbcglobal.net> wrote: ...At the same time we are trying to establish the membership structure and guidelines... I would very much like to hear feedback from communities in stages BEFORE move-in (and the formation of the HOA) about your membership structure. ... ___________________________________ A man becomes his attentions. His observations and curiosity, they make and remake him. --William Least Heat Moon
- seeking input on membership structure Jonnie Pekelny, October 26 2006
- Re: seeking input on membership structure Catya Belfer-Shevett, October 26 2006
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