Want affordable housing?

by: Alan O’Hashi    http://www.aginggratefullythemovie.com

Silver Sage Village has 16 homes of which ten are market rate and six were built for the city of Boulder’s permanently affordable housing program. (https://bouldercolorado.gov/homeownership). Wild Sage cohousing across the street partnered with Habitat for Humanity as well as the city affordable program. Here are a few random thoughts:

– I suggest you have a serious and frank discussion among yourselves about why you personally – as opposed to philosophical – want affordable housing. Get strong commitments about all being willing to pay more money out of pocket to level the field for those who cannot otherwise afford to live there. Partner with others, rather than tackle affordable housing on your own. Even if you do find ways to subsidize building costs that doesn’t lower monthly Home Owner’s Association fees.
– The affordable homes are 800sqft and worth $150000 (I live in one of these) and limited in appreciation. The market rate are between 1100 and 2300sqft and valued at $500000 and $1000000 and rising. (market rate owners have a bigger desire to protect their interests by jacking up reserves and buying more/pricey amenities.)

– I suggest you build the homes so they are all affordable to people / families of similar means. At Silver Sage over the years an informal caste system arose.

– I suggest building all similar size homes of so the homeowner fees are more equally distributed. (At Silver Sage fees range from $450+ to $550+/month including heating and cooking gas.)

– I suggest you build enough homes to spread around the fees, see above. (I think the sweet spot is around 32.)

– I suggest you design the homes ala ‘the not so big house’ by Sarah Susanka (http://www.notsobighouse.com) to encourage residents to use the common house. (At Silver Sage the common house is used more by the affordable homeowners because our living spaces are smaller. We have a majority of use by non-residents – who rent it.)