The fertile soil of the economic collapse and housing crisis compels us to consider ideas that, in fatter times, would have been unthinkable. The distinction between the type of sharing and the type of ownership is important.
Shared arrangements could include
- PH/H – Professional Homes managed by Professional Homemakers. The household pivots around the Homemaker who decides who lives there, the terms of their residency and ensures the smooth and harmonious functioning of the home. This would be a great job, which is not to say an easy one, for people who are natural at it, grandmothers for example. It also would provide income for people who currently don’t consider themselves employable. Professional Homes could be owned or rented.
- N-FIG, Non-Familial, Inter-Generational home sharing. All adults are equal, either all renters or all owners.
- Dormitory housing – A case can be made for dormitory living. Some people are well over their love affair with “stuff” and would welcome living a simpler lifestyle in a gracious environment with less responsibility. Dormitories would have private bedrooms, common living space and an arrangement for meals. A rental model.
Promising new ownership models
In an exciting development, Cook County’s new Land Bank initiative was created to purchase vacant and foreclosed properties with the intent to demolish what can’t be saved, rehab what’s salvageable for return to the tax roll. This will work to end blight and stabilize neighborhoods.
Single Family Home Cooperatives
A movement toward single family home cooperatives is primed for a breakthrough. A single family home co-op would look like any other single family home, except for the invisible anxiety under the surface. This is how it would work:
A cooperative corporation forms to purchase single family homes in a geographically manageable area. The optimal number for economies of scale is 100. The co-op is responsible for the mortgage, taxes, insurance and maintenance. You purchase a membership in the co-op and pay a monthly fee, the carrying charge, which conveys the permanent right to live in your unit. As a member owner, you would be renting from yourself. The co-op, not individual members, pays for repairs and maintenance. If the roof or the furnace goes, the co-op is responsible. The Cook County Land Bank may be a good source for potential inventory.
Obviously, these new initiatives have many moving parts that can fit together in interesting and unexpected ways. The best approach is to come to a Housing Mixer in your neighborhood to see what might fit together for you and your family.