Re: cohousing vision
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2011 04:41:29 -0700 (PDT)
On 13 Jul 2011, at 5:43 AM, John Beutler wrote:

> In states with favorable laws such as New York, housing coops have provided 
> some of the starkest instances of exclusivity, elitism and racism in the 
> housing market.

One of the reasons that the coops in NYC are so elitist is that they started 
that way. They have rules that prevent owners from holding mortgages, for 
example. They don't have to disclose why they reject one candidate or choose 
another. There is no transparency. Since their intention is to be exclusive, it 
would be interesting to see what would happen if the intention were to be 

>  Simple rental may provide a more feasible approach for cohousing if a method 
> of capitalization can be developed.

The problem here is that an external person or an internal overlord would own 
the property. Since the owner is in fact in a position to lose a lot of money 
if the property isn't maintained or is in some way at risk, the owner will 
always need control over many decisions — veto power. 

This puts the community at potential odds with the owner, and in my experience 
from being a renter, at perpetual odds. The owner determines what changes you 
can make to the property, when the rent goes up, what utilities you can 
install, etc. They have to have this right in order to control their own costs.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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