Re: Affordable Housing in Your Community - taking on risk
From: Norman Gauss (
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 09:30:30 -0700 (PDT)
Offering below-market housing to low-income people amounts to pretending
that there is just as little risk in doing this as there is for
middle-income people.  If creative financing is resorted to, somebody has to
take on the higher risk of dealing with people whose reliability in making
payments may not be proven.

In our community, residents who have arranged for affordability programs
have been arrears in their payments more than once since they moved in.  In
the meantime, extra effort has had to be expended by our finance team to
repeatedly contact these people to get them to pay their bills.  This is
time devoted to bill collecting that could have been devoted to more
constructive things.

My point is that people with money present a lower risk than those on more
shaky financial grounds.  Somebody has to take on this risk, and that may
amount to making the recipient of low-income less responsible for his/her
financial obligations. 

Norm Gauss

-----Original Message-----
From: Sharon Villines [mailto:sharon [at]] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 7:33 AM
To: Cohousing-L
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Affordable Housing in Your Community Ann Zabaldo

On 27 Jul 2011, at 9:32 AM, Fred H Olson wrote:

> I think it would be a mistake to allow listeners think that cohousing 
> in the US has been very successful about addressing affordability. 
> Attempts have been made, there is a desire to make cohousing 
> affordable, but it remains a major challenge.

I agree with you, Fred, but I also think that it would be a mistake to
believe that it hasn't been accomplished in many cohousing communities for
at least some of the residents. Ann is eternally optimistic.

What hasn't been done is low income cohousing.

The current market is very hard for everyone and like the added burden it
places on the disadvantaged, it is equally hard on small odd enterprises
like cohousing. And will remain hard because low income and rental units
require investors. In this market investors are not taking risks.

And before you say cohousing is not risky, note that eBay, when it was
already up and running, was considered a risky investment. The developer had
to provide her own funding in order to grow. People with money are very
conservative - that's how they got their money and will keep it.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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