Re: Welcome to Wendy Wiesner, PFAC Executive Director
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 2015 06:23:31 -0700 (PDT)
Affordable cohousing struggles within the larger context of affordable housing 
generally.  For decades now, average American household incomes have not been 
keeping up with escalation in construction costs and real estate prices — so 
almost all housing, for almost everyone, is increasingly unaffordable.  And, 
there is nothing magical about the cohousing model that can deliver housing at 
prices significantly below market respective to comparable “regular” housing.  
Those who pursue cohousing in the belief that it will be “cheap” may end up 

Most for-profit developers see "affordability” and income diversity as a plague 
upon their marketing strategy — a complication to be shunned except for special 
cases where it’s a zoning permit requirement.  Non-profit developers can and do 
invent interesting alternatives for delivering below-market habitation — but 
it’s pretty unusual for such developers to actually move into and occupy their 
own projects.  So what’s interesting and unique about the cohousing model is 
that small groups of self-identified developers are willing to pursue and 
encourage income diversity within the community they plan to inhabit.  This 
sub-local commitment to income diversity plays out not only in unit sales (or 
rental) prices, but also in distributing the on-going cost burdens of annual 
operations and improvements.

The community income diversity commitment takes some real courage and ethical 
conviction.  It also requires skill and endurance.  As structural wealth/income 
disparities continue to expand in the US, the challenges will only increase — 
and the potential for cohousing to counter-compensate will be increasingly 

R Philip Dowds
175 Harvey Street, Unit 5
Cambridge, MA 02140

land:     617.354.6094
mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at] <mailto:rpdowds [at]>

> On Sep 3, 2015, at 2:42 PM, Alice Alexander <alicecohous [at]> 
> wrote:
> I'm so pleased our sister organization PFAC (Partnerships for Affordable
> Cohousing <>) has made the leap in
> appointing an Executive Director. Wendy Wiesner is an excellent choice,
> having served on the board for many years to help shape and grow the
> organization's important mission of promoting and establishing affordable
> cohousing. Coho/US is proud to be collaborating with PFAC.
> Wendy writes on PFAC's home page:
> *Welcome from the new Executive Director!*
> PFAC started out four years ago as an organization dedicated to bringing
> financial expertise, resources, and methods from the multifamily housing
> industry into cohousing. Special focus was placed upon affordability for
> three reasons: 1) affordability gives us a way to capture, measure and
> communicate the social, political, and economic contributions of cohousing;
> 2) affordability is an issue in nearly all markets where cohousing is
> prevalent; and 3) affordability took on new meaning and importance for both
> individuals and communities after the financial crisis of 2008.
> Since its founding, developing affordability strategies for communities has
> been the most important work of PFAC. Executing these strategies requires
> forging partnerships with private, public and other non-profit entities on
> both a local and national level, and this is where PFAC finds itself today.
> Up to this point, a board of PFAC experts has done this work, in a way that
> very much mirrors the cohousing communities that PFAC aspires to serve.
> With significant progress has come opportunity, and fully capitalizing upon
> it requires that the organization structure itself accordingly. This
> includes appointing an Executive Director, as well as making room for
> additional staff members and consultants who can support communities,
> funders, investors, municipalities and housing-related entities on a local
> level.
> As we embark on this new and important phase in the development of the
> organization--knowing that the work we do is in service of communities and
> the individuals within them--we'd like to get your feedback. As a community
> or community member, what are your needs and values around affordability?
> To what extent is affordability a problem in your town or city? Do you
> envision that your community can be part of a bigger solution to the
> problem? How would you envision supporting PFAC's work--during your
> project's planning phase, upon a project's execution? Through charitable
> contribution? Something else? [Wendy can be reached at
> wwiesner [at]]
> Thank you for your input and your support of PFAC as it builds a bridge
> between cohousing and the conventional housing and finance world. This
> bridge is what will make it possible for more people to live in cohousing
> and reap its benefits, as well as for more communities that take human
> well-being seriously to emerge.
> Wendy Wiesner
> PFAC Executive Director
> -- 
> Alice Alexander
> Executive Director
> <>
> [image: The Cohousing Association]
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