Re: Applications for membership- how much information?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2018 17:50:42 -0700 (PDT)
> On Aug 23, 2018, at 6:09 PM, Becca Brackett <ecbrackett [at]> 
> wrote:

> One of us says  we can't ask about number in the family, employment, needed 
> accommodations, background etc  because it veers into the protected classes 
> of the Fair housing law.

This is true of job interviews and people being considered for renting or 
purchasing a house. If you are functioning like most cohousing groups, you 
won’t be picking and choosing residents. Turning someone away or wanting to 
turn them away would probably be related to something in lifestyle, not one of 
the protected classes in the discrimination laws.

I’m not a believer in forms and at this stage I think it gives the impression 
that you are a building manager with an apartment to rent and will be choosing 
only a renter you like. How do you feel when being asked to fill out a form 
when you want to join a small group? A large professional organization, yes. 
Not a bunch of people who will probably fit in your living room.

I assume you are putting together a group of people who are building personal 
relationships with each other in order to form a community and to build a 
multi-household building or buildings. You can find out anything you need to 
know by talking to people — it’s an icebreaker if nothing else. Anything they 
don’t want you to know they are not likely to put on a form, and are much more 
likely to just discuss it with you personally.

If you meet someone at a luncheon, what do you ask for when you want to have 
lunch with them again? Not their living arrangements or medical conditions.

If you need to record information for yourself, just keep notes. It may seem 
like there are a lot of people at an information session but very few will be 
interested in taking the next step. Don’t drive yourself crazy keeping track of 
them or trying to talk them into anything. 99% you won’t be able to. 

Just ask anyone who would like you to call them to talk or let them know when 
the next meeting is to give your their name, phone number, and email address. 
Handing them a form gives the impression that they have to commit to just 
listen. LIke Yahoo wanting all your personal information just to join an email 
list on pet poodles. 

I think there may also be some inference that  if you ask for information you 
are taking control of it in someway. If you want medical information does that 
mean the community will be built to accommodate their needs? If you are in an 
area where you are competing with adult living communities, some people will be 
looking for this.

The only thing I would ask for when it appears that people are getting serious 
is a mortgage-eligible decision from a mortgage broker. That is the bottom line 
that you have to meet — knowing your market.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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