Max's Cohousing Page
Issues raised by my dear friend Giselle (unattributed responses are those of max):
- What is cohousing?
See my CoHo mini-FAQ.
- Why do you care?
I like the goals of cohousing: building community, unlike the
separation and inefficiency of the suburbs. I like the idea of having
some open space, neighbors with common goals, shared facilities,
a dining hall ...
- Is there any cohousing in the SF Bay Area?
Two organizations close to where we live now are
PEninsula Region CoHousing, which
is still in its early stages but sounds nearly ideal, and
the San Mateo Cooperative
is smaller, with a more ecological-ideology bent, but it's closer
to being real.
I've been able to find a group in the planning stages in Oakland.
Established coho units are known to exist in Davis and
Sacramento. A list of California contacts can be found here.
- What is the legal organization of a typical coho?
I don't know yet. Under investigation.
- What sort of features do you want?
Open space. Shared workspace. Shared dining. A stream or
something would be nice, too. Obviously this area needs more thought.
- How will the houses be designed?
Good ideas will be appropriated from other cohos. So far
a little thought has been given this by our resident architect,
Vivian. The main
thoughts so far are: efficiency and modularity. Let's design houses
which can be easily expanded later.
- What else is on-line?
Good links I've found:
"It sounds to me like there are going to be an awful lot of fees OR the group
will eventually divide up into THOSE WHO LIVE AND WORK HERE AND KEEP THE
PLACE GOING and THOSE WHO LIVE HERE, WORK ELSEWHERE AND PAY TO HAVE THE PLACE
KEEP GOING FOR THEIR CONVENIENCE."
- Would inhabitants of a domicile 'own' it? Or would they 'rent'? From
whom would they be renting? The collective or one person?
- firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
"... most cohousing groups are set up as condominiums, with individuals
being responsible for their own mortgage, it requires more direct support
than in a coop situation with a group mortgage, where the group can adjust
the payments of everyone a little bit to cover for a non-paying share.
"I would think that a group which would do this for each other would be
pretty close community, more so than most cohousing that I am aware of."
- How do you divvy up land taxes? By person or by persons of voting age or
by household or what?
- The condo model suggests that every member pays taxes on
their little house, and pays fees into a fund that pays for taxes
on the commons. These would probably be divided up fairly equally,
though you might want to charge someone with six kids extra.
- Would you have to pay extra for guests? They'd be eating
everyone's food and using everyone's energy. Would you be 'allowed'
a certain number of guests for a certain number of days per year
for a yearly fee?
- That's a decision best left to the group. I suspect that
guests won't be enough of an economic impact to worry about.
- How would employees of the group be paid? Could, for example, a house
husband who volunteers to look after the babies three mornings a week receive
a stipend? Or a rent deduction? Or a break from another duty? Or would he
be expected to do it out of the goodness of his heart?
- I wasn't planning any employees of the group ... the cohousing-l
mailing list suggests that everybody in a cohousing group is part of an
otherwise gainfully employed family.
- What happens in case a member cannot fulfill their obligations, monetary
a/or otherwise? Would they have been expected to cover themselves? Or could
they buy 'emergency' insurance?
- MelaSilva@aol.com writes:
"We have had that happen here at Southside Park in Sacramento. In most cases
it was 1 adult in a 2 adult household . We have discussed the possibility
several times of making loans. A few loans are happening now, between
individual people instead of the whole community. Many times loans were
offered without being asked. It is much easier, and payback more flexible
(sometimes being partially worked off) between individuals rather than
getting the whole community involved. And the loaner recieves the interest.
This might sound very threatening to people who are not yet in cohousing. One
of the amazing things is, when you have agonized over details with the same
folks for 5 years, you trust each other! We are not best friends with 40
people, but we sure know a lot about each other from observation at meeting,
cooking together, etc. Recently we hired one underemplyed member to restain
decks and clean gutters. It was much cheaper than the bids we got, he was
very happy to do the work, and so both sides benefitted. So often we find
that is the key. No one wants a one sided deal. All of these things work much
better when both sides benefit."
Last updated 26 Mar 98 by max