Re: Reverse Mortgages [Petition for FHA & Other FHA refusals]
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2014 09:12:42 -0700 (PDT)
At Cornerstone, we recently consensed our way through a special assessment 
worth an average of $2K per household for the purpose of major capital 
improvements.  There was much concern about putting too much financial pressure 
on struggling households — we had some theories, but no real information about 
this.  “Means testing” was discussed, but promptly dismissed as too intrusive 
for a small community of neighbors.  So we went to an assessment that was 25% 
mandatory and 75% voluntary; any household could step away from the 75% 
voluntary “fair share” if it felt like a financial hardship.  Totally up to the 
household: no explanation, no evidence requested or needed.

In the end, every household but one paid the full 100%, and one paid half the 
fair share.  So the two lessons we take away from this are …
We can deal with communal financial issues without getting involved in members' 
personal financial situations; and
People often have more money than you think they do.  Or at least, are more 
willing to invest in the community than you first suppose.

As a sidebar … I am aware of situations where cohos, or select members thereof, 
contribute money to a household in exchange for a mortgage on the unit; the 
money returns to the lender upon the sale of the unit.  This is a certainly a 
way that cohos can become, in effect, their own bankers, and escape the 
strictures of FHA-insured lending.  For reverse mortgages, maybe pestering the 
FHA is more trouble than it’s worth.

Cornerstone / Cambridge, MA

On Mar 30, 2014, at 11:39 AM, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> 

> My concern about this is means testing. People have widely varying 
> perceptions of their ability to pay and their "necessary" expenses. But how 
> would we do means testing on neighbors and friends?

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