Re: Rental Cohousing?
From: Lia Olson (
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 11:26:52 -0800 (PST)
Oh dear, the notion that financial investment might be a prerequisite for
commitment to community is a really disturbing one.  Particularly since there
are those  who see working out a more sane, communal way for of life as  both a
personal and cultural imperative, but who, yet, don't have the means to
purchase property.  They need not be people who are unstable either.  In
California, where I live, the housing market is so inflated that a solid,
professional single parent or someone without family money for the initial down
payment has a difficult time becoming a first-time buyer.  Over the time I've
been on this list, I've made contact with a number of people caught, as I am,
in this situation, but who are quite passionate in their dedication to living
in community. 

I think we have to remember that 'property' is just that -- property.   It's a
very effective means to enable like-minded people to come together and create a
richer and more intertwined community, but the key and essential ingredient is
the dedication to a common vision and to nurturing a way of life based on

Or course I think Rob's essential message, about the necessity of solid
commitment, is spot-on, but please don't assume that being a renter guarantees
a lesser quantity of it.   The process of screening to bring in people who
truly are dedicated to the cohousing vision rather than merely seeking a rental
unit could be a daunting one, and fair-housing regulations might complicate it
further.   But let's remember that the difficulty doesn't lie within the people
who rent, but within the procedure needed to bring in the right people to do
the renting.   If you've got people in cohousing communities who are
disgruntled and dissatisfied but remain solely because of their investment in
property, I think that (economic realities aside) you'd be far better served to
have a renter in their place who truly believed that a community based on
relationships and consensual decisons was the sanest way to live and that the
struggles were worth working through.

The practical consideration, pointed out in an earlier post, that most
cohousers don't have the funds to include building rental units along with
their private residences seems like a more  justifiable explanation for why
there are few rentals in existing communities.   The lack seems like a
regrettable reality rather than a desirable feature of cohousing.   I'm
grateful that some folks are considering creative avenues for widening the path
into this sort of community so that right attitude trumps right financial
picture in determining who comes together and becomes part of a cohousing

And those of you who do have renters in your midst--I'd be interested in
knowing what your experiences have been.   And, whether the experience was
positive or negative (and I'm sure there have been both), I'd particularly like
to know how that person came into the community and whether the mechanism or
process made a difference in the outcome.  Does anyone have practical
experience that sheds light on how to find the right people to rent within

--- Rob Sandelin <floriferous [at]> wrote:

>  PLEASE, TRIM YOUR TAILS. That is, minimize quoted material
>  on replies.  See
> A community is not made of houses. It is made of relationships between
> people. Cohousing is an intentional set of relationships, created amid a
> housing paradigm. Once upon a time in Aspen a cohousing project was designed
> as affordable housing. People came for the housing, not the community, and
> the community failed, much to the dismay of the project originators. What
> makes community work?  Would a group of people who joined a rental cohousing
> community have the interest and follow through to make community work?
> Would they have  high expectations for community life together, a strong
> commitment to work through things? Or would they fracture at the first
> crack, and dissolve into their own concerns, the hell with the neighbors?  
> Community is a delicate flower when it first blooms, and it takes commitment
> to relationships to give it endurance. I am not sure that group simply
> moving into a finished building would have any notions of how to be a
> community unless they had some build up work together. It is one thing to
> read about cooperative life on a brochure, it is a very different thing to
> live it, day in, day out.
> Rob Sandelin
> 17 year resident
> Sharingwood
> _________________________________________________________________
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