Re: Affordable (Co)housing
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2021 17:53:19 -0700 (PDT)
Diana — I like and agree w/ all that you say about how profit is not 
necessarily the only or even the primary benefit of living in a permanently 
affordable unit in Mosaic Commons.

I’m always of two minds regarding permanently affordable housing.  In addition 
to the benefits you mentioned, Diana, another advantage is that the 
municipality doesn’t have to keep ginning up financing to keep building 
replacement affordable units if the units are allowed to be sold at market 
rates.  Defeats the purpose of an affordable housing program.

On the other hand … a owning a house is one of the main ways people gain wealth 
in our society.  So it seems cutting off people from that wealth building 
process is unfair by restricting access to the pathway.  Another consideration 
is that people may need to move.  If there is NO profit in the house they are 
selling … can they afford to buy in the place they are going if they don’t have 
the cushion of that resale profit?  Of course, you can make the argument that 
an affordable mortgage frees up other money so the affordable homeowner can 
save money — they are not stretched to the limit in their personal finances if 
they have a reduced mortgage (of course there are exceptions all around.  It’s 
terribly hard to save money in certain ).

In your case in MA, you say people can borrow against the house.  Now, that’s 
visionary.  That could mean money to learn a new skill, send their kids to 
college, go into business — any of a number of things using this feature could 
build wealth. 

So many models … so hard to know which ones work best.  My fave is requiring 
people to live in the affordable home for 7+ years to prevent flipping.  The 
only compensation received at this time is what you paid for the unit plus any 
improvements.  After 7+ years there is a upward sliding scale in which you 
receive a very small “profit" on the house for the number of years you live in 
it.  This is all to maintain stability in the community — the owner gets a 
little “profit” and staying where you are becomes desirable but when you have 
to leave you have a little cushion and a little recognition that simply living 
in your home benefited you.

Really liking this thread.  Thanks to all!

Best —

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Ex. Dir. & Mbr. Board of Directors
Mid Atlantic Cohousing
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church, VA

When Isaac Newton stayed home to avoid the 1665 plague, he discovered the Laws 
of Gravity, Optics, and he invented Calculus

NOTE:  I’m switching back to using zabaldo [at]  Many apologies!

> On Apr 19, 2021, at 8:01 PM, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]> 
> wrote:
> Sharon notes: "But it sounds like they are not owners. If they can’t sell
> at the price that is considered “affordable” at the time they sell, there
> is little advantage over renting, except that they can live in your
> community."
> We have a similar model for our affordable units here in Mosaic Commons --
> the price on resale is set according to a formula, so you can't really make
> a profit, so it doesn't count as an investment the way standard real estate
> does.
> I wouldn't say, though, that there's no advantage over renting. There are
> pluses and minus. A big plus is that it never goes away. No one gets to
> kick you out to convert your apartment to a condo. No one will raise your
> rent as the neighborhood gentrifies.  (The association fees may go up, but
> you get a vote in that. And here at Mosaic, the association fees are
> subsidized as well.) You can choose what you want to do in the house --
> painting, knocking out walls, whatever.  You can borrow against it (take a
> second mortgage).  You can pass it to your children/beneficiaries. It's
> protected against bankruptcy (at least in MA, not sure about other states.)
> It's way harder legally to foreclose on a mortgage than to evict a tenant.
> OWN it, and there are advantages to owning things rather
> than renting them.

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