Topics

All-Rental Community

David Oesper
 

I still have some hope of establishing something out there of a more permanent nature but like most of you cannot really afford two homes. I am not sure I have seen this mentioned in particular, but a possible source of an income stream to support your community would be hosting remote observatories for amateurs interested in Astrophotography, particularly given that there would be residents on campus to overlook operations.

Many communities have this bi-cultural focus, so to speak, and are successful to the extent that the residential, cohousing part does not depend on all residents working in the income producing portions. Organic garden sales, for example, is one operation that co exists with some communities. Cheese-making in a community in Vermont.

Sometimes the communities began as fully integrated, but over time—sometimes a very short time — found it was better to have two organizations, however overlapping, worked better than trying to manage one that had to be all things to all people. Particularly when a large portion of the residents are not interested in the income producing side and/or people work in the income producing side with no interest in living at work.

What triggered me to respond was the word “permanence” while I was working on a blog post for Sustainable Cohousing on self-governance and strong communities. I realized what had been bothering me about the all rentals model. It encourages impermanence. This happens in many ways. The basic one is that there is an owner who can veto decisions by the residents and residents come to expect the owner to solve all problems. It isn’t that everyone is equal because everyone is renting, but they are all equal except some — the owner(s). This is reasonable, too, because the owners are the ones taking the financial and legal risks. But it also leads to autocratic governance.

The problem of term limits is a good example. In organizations where the top leadership can serve for a limited period of time, say one to six years or even eight years, the staff becomes stronger than the leaders. By necessity the staff controls rather than those elected to represent the people or members or citizens.

A short term leader is dependent on staff. It takes years to learn a job and to build power in terms of influencing others and being respected. Having an independent and powerful leader is beneficial for organizations — as long as they remain representative. Expecting Nancy Pelosi to step down is lunacy at this point. She is an expert and has the respect of everyone she leads. Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, has developed leadership into a kleptocracy. He uses it for personal gain for himself and the people who keep him in power. He even buys off the people by a disproportionate size and number of grants for his state.

People want term-limits to get rid of the Mitch McConnells but fail to realize that that means no Nancy Pelosi’s or Ted Kennedys or whomever. It will lead to strong staff control and will be even more hidden than it is now. Short term leaders can’t afford to fire experienced staff—they know how to do the job. One of Obama’s advantages in the Senate was that he inherited a full, experienced staff from a previous Senator with whom he was a close colleague. In addition to being just plain smart, he had a huge running start.

So that is what has been bothering me about “all rentals”. It means the owner(s) never cede control—even when they think they do or can. The ideal is that everyone in the organization is equal in terms of respect and importance and has a defined responsibility over which they and their team mates are in control. The odds of an all rental community being the kind of community that is fully self-governing and co-responsible is not a possibility.

Sharon

Sharon Villines

http://sustainablecohousing.org

sustainablecohousing@groups.io

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David Oesper
 

Sharon,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments about the disadvantages of an all-rental community. This is such an important topic that I would like to start a separate thread under the topic "All-Rental Community". Everyone: please post your thoughts on this topic under this thread.

Thanks much,

Dave

Lonnie Dittrick
 

I know I am the newest member of this group but I would suggest that infusing our political biases into the discussion on rental communities is probably not wise or beneficial.  Sharon’s insight into all-rental communities has some validity, but I and perhaps some other members of the group have a complete opposite opinion on our national leaders.  Rep. Pelosi is far from what I would consider a virtuous, altruistic, self-sacrificing leader, but I will stop at that.  Let’s stay on topic and keep our biases out of it, or I will be the first to bow out, respectfully.

On Sun, Jun 28, 2020 at 2:00 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Sharon,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments about the disadvantages of an all-rental community. This is such an important topic that I would like to start a separate thread under the topic "All-Rental Community". Everyone: please post your thoughts on this topic under this thread.

Thanks much,

Dave

--
“The Universe declares Your Majesty.”
www.londittrickphotography.com

David Oesper
 

Sharon,

Ever since your post yesterday I’ve been thinking a lot about how Mirador could be structured as an all-rental community. Here’s my idea.

The renters are the owners. The organization that operates Mirador would be a cooperative. Instead of paying your rent to a landlord, you would pay your rent to the community. The renter-owners would not be building equity for themselves but rather equity for the community. All proceeds would be invested directly back into the community. As long as you are a renter, you are a part-owner of the community.

How would decisions get made about how the money gets spent, etc.? Some form of consensus or perhaps sociocracy would be used.

Income from the RV park, tourism, education, etc. would also be reinvested back into the community.

Raising the capital needed to purchase land would require issuing shares. Those shares would make you a community founder. Some future residents of Mirador will have money to invest in shares prior to living at Mirador, and others would not be able to pay anything until they begin renting. Some shareholders may not plan to live at Mirador but will want to support the project. We might consider some form of crowdfunding.

What privileges will be afforded to community founders/shareholders? Will community founders/shareholders have any privileges that differ from the renter-owners after the community is established? These are questions that will need to be answered.

Since Mirador will have an RV park, a sharehouse, apartments, and a cohousing community, where will people be able to live on-site until the community raises enough funds from rental and business income to build their permanent homes? We might find some land with an existing house on it that could be used right away as the sharehouse, and others could live in the RV park until their apartments or homes are built.

Some amount of conventional financing seems likely so the community gets developed faster than at a snail's pace...

Lots to work out yet to create a viable business plan, but that’s the gist.

Thanks,

Dave

Sharon Villines
 

On Jun 29, 2020, at 7:05 PM, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper@...> wrote:

First, I posted a message this morning before I read this one so it isn’t in response.

The renters are the owners. The organization that operates Mirador would be a cooperative. Instead of paying your rent to a landlord, you would pay your rent to the community. The renter-owners would not be building equity for themselves but rather equity for the community. All proceeds would be invested directly back into the community. As long as you are a renter, you are a part-owner of the community.

One of the issues in our currently underprivileged populations is that they are not building a sense of ownership in addition to not building equity. They have no control. City councils don’t listen to renters even if the renters feel forward enough to go to city council meetings. The landlords can allow the buildings to decay while taking huge tax abatements on the property. The make money even if they don’t improve their buildings.

In a cooperative, such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually in some relationship to the size of the apartments they occupy. They have the right to occupy a certain apartment because they are joint-owners in the whole venture. When they move they sell their shares. And the cooperative must approve the owners.

So the it is both a cooperative with everyone having a more or less equal say in how it functions (if they choose to), owners of stock are building equity based on how well their building is maintained and improved. The cooperatives I know are actually very rich, but it is a good model for low cost housing as well. The owners of shares then profit from their labor and have control over their lives and how the building is run. Maintaining property is a responsibility that has to be grown into. 

It would be very difficult to get and maintain buy-in when residents are both paying money and providing labor to develop the community. It could be a non-profit charity organization, much like Zen communities that also run bakeries, soup kitchens, etc. But in those communities the residents who work don’t pay rent. The ones who pay rent are people who work outside the community. They do chores to help out and defray costs. But when their money and work increases the value of the community, all the advantages stay in the community—and their rent goes up as well.

Otherwise you have an organization that rents living units to support itself.

You could find out how many people are willing to live in such places — no equity, pay rent. I suspect it is a temporary situation for people who have enough money to live elsewhere. There will probably be more people who are willing to work instead of paying rent.

How would decisions get made about how the money gets spent, etc.? Some form of consensus or perhaps sociocracy would be used.

The models in sociocracy are businesses that own themselves (there are no external owners) and everyone receives a salary from working in the business.  The business has a governance structure that specifies how the organization works. Who decides what. There can’t be an hostile takeovers.

In cohousing, the community is owned by all the participants. There is a tension sometimes between those who live there as renters and those who are owners. Should a renter participate in decisions that obligate owners to pay more money or take more risk than the renters do?

Income from the RV park, tourism, education, etc. would also be reinvested back into the community.

This makes sense as these services are for people’s partial needs — not their whole living situation. They are intended to be temporary for learning and experiencing the environment.

Raising the capital needed to purchase land would require issuing shares. Those shares would make you a community founder. Some future residents of Mirador will have money to invest in shares prior to living at Mirador, and others would not be able to pay anything until they begin renting. Some shareholders may not plan to live at Mirador but will want to support the project. We might consider some form of crowdfunding.

The sociocratic model is the only one I know that specifies the earnings and rights of the investors or shareholders. They have rights and a representative who participates decisions, but they do not own the organization and participate in decisions but have no control over them the way corporate shareholders do.

My sense of crowd funding — based on no research — is that it works when a project is dear to someone’s heart and they receive something in return. Start ups, for example, are “selling” preorders of their product. Perhaps selling 2 weeks vacation in Mirador.

Otherwise you are facing the same things non-profit organizations face— foundations don’t fund operations. They fund special programs, sometimes special facilities. People who donate money are hard to convince to donate money for operations.

Since Mirador will have an RV park, a sharehouse, apartments, and a cohousing community, where will people be able to live on-site until the community raises enough funds from rental and business income to build their permanent homes? We might find some land with an existing house on it that could be used right away as the sharehouse, and others could live in the RV park until their apartments or homes are built.

There would have to be some upfront investment in setting up all the connections the RVs need and probably converting the existing building to part living spaces and part group facilities. Studying the way people operate boat docks might be helpful. Some boats stay for years and others dock a few months of the year. One I know in Annapolis has facilities on shore — a pool, recreational center, and apts for people who don’t live on their boats but dock there.

Some amount of conventional financing seems likely so the community gets developed faster than at a snail's pace...

I may have told you this before but I’m sure there is someone out there who didn’t see it so I will repeat it. The usual way that cohousing communities start is that 70-75 % of the units have to have purchase contracts with down payments before the bank will loan construction funds. We had a developer who started the project so he had money to pay for the underground stuff and the permits. But we all had to sign contracts with checks for 5% of the purchase price. That meant the bank was only financing units that had already been sold. Not much risk. And they knew the developer so that helped a lot.

Is there a city around the area you are interested in? How remote is it?

Sharon

Steve Taylor
 



On Tue, 30 Jun 2020 at 21:08, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon=sharonvillines.com@groups.io> wrote:
such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually

You mean specifically housing co-operatives here ? Co-operatives in general most certainly did not begin in Manhattan !

maxeem
 

I think she meant where some example co-operatives were first founded.

Rochdale principles and such I think started in England about 200 years ago? I'd have to look at it again but I think it was born out of post-war famine and inequity there. And spread to farming and grocery cooperatives here in the Midwest and elsewhere ... but I'd love to learn more about the Manhattan ones. They have some cool examples of residence coops. Met some really nice people from them. I am trying to think of one starting with a "G" where some people came from to visit Twin Oaks when I was there and they seemed so experienced. Would be good people to ask about it, even if their situation is very urban.


On 6/30/20 6:51 PM, Steve Taylor wrote:


On Tue, 30 Jun 2020 at 21:08, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon=sharonvillines.com@groups.io> wrote:
such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually

You mean specifically housing co-operatives here ? Co-operatives in general most certainly did not begin in Manhattan !

Sharon Villines
 

On Jun 30, 2020, at 9:51 PM, Steve Taylor <steveastrouk@...> wrote:

On Tue, 30 Jun 2020 at 21:08, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon=sharonvillines.com@groups.io> wrote:
such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually

You mean specifically housing co-operatives here ? Co-operatives in general most certainly did not begin in Manhattan !

Yes. As I understand it they started with the huge mansions in the city. Families scattered and others were down in income so they broke up the mansions and created cooperatives. They had full control over whom they accepted and they were often life time friends in the same boat. Many of the mansions already had separate suites so it didn’t even require a big overhaul.

Sharon

Sharon Villines
 

On Jul 1, 2020, at 12:26 AM, maxeem <maxeem@...> wrote:

Would be good people to ask about it, even if their situation is very urban.

The city is so alluring and yet so difficult to live in that it has a million different living situations. When I lived there it felt like living in both a luxurious place and the most desolate country with broken transportation, dirt, people begging and peeing in the streets, etc. Every way you can imagine people living together is practiced daily in Manhattan.

One developer built on a very small lot — the apartments were 12’ by 12’ in a 8-10 floors because the lot was so small. The elevator protruded off the side. He expected to sell to people as a weekend or temporary residence. They were purchased by all kinds of people who all lived in them full time.

You could start with reading about intentional communities. I’m not sure how else to look them up. Usually when you start researching you find other keywords that go with the topic.


Steve Taylor
 

I grew up in Rochdale UK. Just down the road from where we lived is the house that one of the pioneers actually lived in. The Co-op was a MAJOR force in the UK, less so now.

On Wed, 1 Jul 2020 at 00:39, maxeem <maxeem@...> wrote:

I think she meant where some example co-operatives were first founded.

Rochdale principles and such I think started in England about 200 years ago? I'd have to look at it again but I think it was born out of post-war famine and inequity there. And spread to farming and grocery cooperatives here in the Midwest and elsewhere ... but I'd love to learn more about the Manhattan ones. They have some cool examples of residence coops. Met some really nice people from them. I am trying to think of one starting with a "G" where some people came from to visit Twin Oaks when I was there and they seemed so experienced. Would be good people to ask about it, even if their situation is very urban.


On 6/30/20 6:51 PM, Steve Taylor wrote:


On Tue, 30 Jun 2020 at 21:08, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon=sharonvillines.com@groups.io> wrote:
such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually

You mean specifically housing co-operatives here ? Co-operatives in general most certainly did not begin in Manhattan !



--
 

David Oesper
 

On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 08:08 PM, Sharon Villines wrote:

It would be very difficult to get and maintain buy-in when residents are both paying money and providing labor to develop the community.

I can imagine that some retirees and wealthier members of our community won’t want to work at all. Those folks will pay full rent. The amount of monthly rent will depend on the type of unit they live in—the four-bedroom house in the cohousing community will cost the most, while the sharehouse and RV park would be the least expensive.

Most will want to work part-time for the community. Their monthly rent would be reduced according to the number of hours they work and perhaps the type of work they do.

Some will want to work full-time for the community. Their monthly rent would be reduced the most, again perhaps depending upon the type of work they do. In some cases, they will be able to live at Mirador rent-free. Basic living expenses in addition to rent might be covered as well.

Everyone will have the freedom to have income sources outside the community, and the community will have no involvement in that.

You could find out how many people are willing to live in such places — no equity, pay rent. I suspect it is a temporary situation for people who have enough money to live elsewhere.

Certainly some of the folks living at Mirador will be living there only some of the time—RVers, snowbirds, and the like. But I think many others will want Mirador to be their one and only home, and will be OK with renting. Many are currently renting (and that number is increasing). Many current homeowners will sell their homes before moving to Mirador, and will like the flexibility that renting offers. This will be especially true for retirees (see https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/business/retirement-rent-buy-home.html).

I have owned four homes in my life as jobs and locations changed, and currently have 25 years remaining on a 30-year mortgage (at age 64), so not a lot of equity, anyway. I’ve owned homes in towns of 50,000, 6,000, and 4,500, so no large cities or metro areas. The first two homes were older ones that we poured a lot of money in to improve. I’ve never owned a home in a real estate market that has appreciated appreciably. So moving from owning to renting doesn’t bother me. I don’t know how common this experience or sentiment is for others nearing retirement who would be considering Mirador.

There will probably be more people who are willing to work instead of paying rent.

I agree, and that’s a good thing for the community. Might help attract some younger folks, too. Another good thing for the community.

Is there a city around the area you are interested in? How remote is it?

There would certainly be advantages to living reasonably close to a city with decent medical facilities and other amenities. From an astronomy standpoint, it would be best to locate southeast or southwest of the city. There, no celestial objects would be impacted by the light dome of the city when they’re highest in the sky and the generally more interesting half of the sky south of an east-west line wouldn’t be affected. Due south of a city wouldn’t be too bad either. Due north of a city would be the worst, where the light dome of the city washes out southern objects when they’re highest in the sky.

Locating too close to a city or metropolitan area would jeopardize the dark-sky community in just a few short years due to urban sprawl and the lighting encroachment that inevitably comes with it.

Locating southeast or southwest of a smaller town wouldn’t be as risky, and would still offer some amenities less than a half hour away.

The best place to locate an astronomy community in terms of minimizing light pollution both now and in the future would be a remote area, far from any cities or towns.

The best resource I know of to find suitable locations for a dark-sky community in terms of light pollution is here: https://www.lightpollutionmap.info.

Thanks,

Dave