Re: helping neighbors share common meals if they can't afford to pay
From: Kelly Bachman (
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2021 08:38:42 -0700 (PDT)
Muriel, Here at Bellingham Cohousing, we have a Hardship Fund we use to pay
the dues (including meals charges) for up to 6 months for a Member having
temporary financial hardship. (Like losing a job or big medical expense.)
Money comes into the fund through voluntary member donations or fundraising
like a special wine dinner for members and their guests.

Members in need may apply to the treasurer for a grant. A 3-person team
evaluates the application and makes a determination. There is no special
form. The member just sends an email describing their situation and
referencing the Hardship Policy.  We don’t require any proof.  The
application and grant are kept confidential.  After the grant is approved,
the treasurer credits their account. The 3-person team consists of the
treasurer, the president of the board, and a person outside the community.

After a grant is made, the member may apply for an extension once. Then
they must wait 5 years to apply again.

The fund has been used 5 times in 10 years.

Currently, we are pondering whether to modify the policy so that it could
help with a special assessment, or with an ongoing financial difficulty
like the dues going up faster than a fixed income.

Bellingham Cohousing

On Tue, Oct 19, 2021 at 7:32 AM Muriel Kranowski <murielk [at]> wrote:

> One of our caring teams brought a request to a team I am on that is
> responsible for managing common meals. They asked us to create a fund that
> would allow our neighbors who are in a financial bind to still come to
> common meals - we charge per meal to those who sign up for each meal,
> billed monthly. Billing and payment are handled by the Meals Accountant.
> The Meals Account is a separate bank account.
> My team met about this last night and agreed that we would like to do this.
> We were wondering how to administer it in a way that would be kind,
> confidential, and not too much of a PITA for the Meals Accountant to deal
> with.
> Do any of your communities do this? If so, how do you handle it? Is it an
> ongoing situation for the person in need until they let someone know they
> don't need it, or on a meal-by-meal request basis, or what? How do you fund
> it? How much use does it get? Do you do anything in particular to maintain
> confidentiality? Anything else that I should know?
> I will greatly appreciate any practical voice-of-experience responses!
>   Muriel @ Shadowlake Village, Blacksburg VA
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