BG: Does cooperative housing make living or retiring in the city more affordable?
TS: Yes. In fact, cooperative living is one of the most financially advantageous age 55+ options available today. In co-op style city retirement you'll reap the benefits of shared costs and collective bargaining. Purchasing items such as cleaning services, in home care or personal fitness classes can be done in a pooled manner by the cooperative members effectively and, therefore, priced down.
Furthermore, overall operating and maintenance expenses are shared by the membership, making the overall cost of living more affordable than a single-family home. When you take the profit-driven middle-man out of the equation, you have control over your costs that most would not have in other retirement communities, be they city or suburban, without the burden of sole ownership.
BG: What is the definition of cooperative housing?
TS: Good living! [laughs].
But seriously, the true definition of a co-op for our purposes is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit. You know that saying, "it takes a village to raise a child"? Well a co-op is an extension of that thought that wisely says, "It takes a village to raise a village!" Humans are communal in nature; individualism is historically a newer concept and I don't think it's all it's cracked up to be, especially as we age. A co-op is a housing model that allows members to be connected, secure and in control.
Cooperative Housing: Age in Place Community
BG: Are senior cooperative retirement communities any different from non-age restricted co-op communities?
TS: It is in one very important aspect: our building is designed to help you age-in-place. It won’t look institutional, but there will be subtle differences that you won’t think about until you need them. The standard family home would need major renovations to accommodate someone as they age or encounter medical difficulties (for example, what if we need a wheelchair in 10 years?) Here are a few features that will be tastefully implemented at The Sheldon:
Crank handles (vs. knobs) - since our joints have more trouble with that turning motion with age.
Lower counter-tops and cabinets
No slippery stairs
Wide parking spaces & underground, connected, covered parking. Most likely we will also have a zip car so you don’t have to fool with car maintenance if you choose to live largely car-free (except for those special occasions).
Reinforced towel racks & shower hand-holds
Large level roll-in showers
Balconies to accommodate wheelchairs and reduce tripping hazard.
BG: I know from experience those things are important and become more so with aging. Your website talks about community as an important aspect of living in a co-op. How do you achieve a feeling of community in a co-op? Do you consider this unique to cooperatives?
TS: Community is intrinsic to the co-op structure. When you own something with other people, and you see them every day, a cooperation is THE most important aspect to making it a successful and pleasant place to live. In co-op's, you get to form governance committees and run a democracy within your building. The incentive to get involved with the community is obvious. Community-building is a huge advantage of co-op's.
Additionally, the amount of community space we have set aside at The Sheldon, a senior cooperative community (at the request of the members), is significant for an urban location. Architects call this “Community Space Science.” Whether an art or a science, it is thoughtful design with an intended result: to get people to come together.
BG: Seniors are very interested in saving their hard-earned money. Can you explain the financial advantages of co operative housing and how it saves money for seniors in retirement?
TS: In a co op, the costs to operate the building are equal to what members pay monthly. It's owned by the members so there is no third-party interests seeking to gain profit from the project. It essentially operates as a zero profit enterprise. Any increases in assessments reflect the actual costs to operate the building, and are voted on by members.
We know of no way to provide the consumer with more high quality for less money because of the manner in which the project is financed. Members make their "down payments" or purchase "shares" in the cooperative prior to the commencement of construction. As a result of this, members eliminate the high return requirements that traditional real estate investors will require. Eliminating this return or "equity yield" allows the co-op members to retain control and essentially get more for less, by eliminating the return-seeking investor.
Additionally, this co-op model offers predictability that is uncommon in your own home, much less, typical retirement communities. The Co-op has robust reserves for maintenance/future repairs and eliminates the profit-seeking owner that raises monthly assessments as much as the market will bear annually. Members are in control of all of this and have total transparency on the co-op’s costs since they own it.
The top three sustainable states, not surprisingly, make up the entire West Coast of the US: California (No. 1), Washington (No. 2) and Oregon (No. 3). If the bronze spot seems too far from the top for Oregon, worry not Portlanders: Portland ranked 2nd in the magazine's sustainable city list (right behind the San Franscico Bay area). It appears, as they say, the West really is the best.
Cooperative Housing Predicted to be a Senior Housing Trend in 2010
Seniorhousingnews.com puts out an annual list of forecasted senior housing trends, and we've just stumbled upon there 2010 list (forgive our tardiness). They say cooperative housing is one of the trends they expect to see an increase in. Though they admittedly aren't experts per se, we at The Sheldon sure hope their prediction is correct! Here is their complete 2010 list of senior living trends (see below for more details on each supposed trend):
1. Finance and Capital Markets Heal Slowly, Carefully and Conservatively
2. Construction & Rehabilitation Struggles To Recover In 2010
3. Green Goes Mainstream
4. Economic Development and Employment As Byproduct of Growing Senior Housing & Living Market
5. Practical Technology Solutions With Tangible Benefits and ROI
6. Service Leans Further Towards Provide Preventive Care Solutions
7. Sales & Marketing of Senior Housing
8. Alternative Senior Housing Options Continue To Grow (such as cooperatives)
9.Risk Management Becomes Mission Critical (if not already)
Intentional Communities: Bringing Community Back Into Living
It's fairly common at this point in time for the modern American to mourn the loss (or, at least, disintegration) of community. Individualism naturally found it's home in American values, and symbols of individual progress like isolated single-family homes, automobiles and even iPods now pervade our cultural landscape. However, certain groups of people feel there is an imbalance between individualistic and cooperative efforts, and are subsequently taking matters into their own hands. These groups are known as "Intentional Communities," and the one thing they all have in common is that they are attempting to reestablish community-based ideals into the way we live.
An "intentional community" is a group of people who have chosen to live together with a common purpose, working cooperatively to create a lifestyle that reflects their shared core values. The people may live together on a piece of rural land, in a suburban home, or in an urban neighborhood, and they may share a single residence or live in a cluster of dwellings.
This definition spans a wide variety of groups, including (but not limited to) communes, student cooperatives, land co-ops, cohousing groups, monasteries and ashrams, and farming collectives. Although quite diverse in philosophy and lifestyle, each of these groups places a high priority on fostering a sense of community--a feeling of belonging and mutual support that is increasingly hard to find in mainstream Western society.
Intentional Communities, argues Kozeny, bust the myth that co-housing communities began and died with the hippies in the '60's. In truth, communal living arrangements have been in place since long before the free-lovin' era -- for thousands of years, in fact. What's more, intentional communities continue to exist around the world, and, by the looks of it, they're making a comeback.
Though we haven't quite actively adopted the label, in many ways The Sheldon Cooperative fits the intentional community profile: We have a common vision that involves strong community, sustainability, and the desire to create a better alternative to traditional senior housing models.
There's no doubt about it, "intentional community" is one buzz word we're sure to hear more of in the future.
Atha Mansoory, J.D., Certificate of Real Estate Development Graduate Student explains:
Specifically, cooperative housing allows for responsive design, mitigation of market risk, empowered financing structures, and egalitarian operation of services. These and other innate advantages are particularly attractive for adults facing long-term housing decisions, often having recently sold single-family detached houses. Cooperative housing allows for flexibility in design, pre-sale requirements, finance, construction, resident control and operation of services that traditional continued care facilities and condominiums cannot.
The PSU article also goes into depth about the benefits of HUD financing. One of the greatest advantage is a 40-year amortizing fixed-interest rate loan that results is financial predictability and financial security to the membership. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the role and advantages of HUD financing are invited to read the whole PSU cooperative housing article.
Maryland (Reuters) - President Barack Obama assured older voters his healthcare reforms will protect their benefits on Tuesday as he launched an election-year push to counter opposition to the plan after weeks focused on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
With Obama's schedule largely dominated since April by the Gulf oil spill, administration officials have done little publicly to counteract opposition to his healthcare law. Many Republicans, meanwhile, have been focusing on healthcare in campaigning ahead of November elections that could cut into the Democratic majorities in the U.S. Congress.
Obama's speech at a senior citizens' center in the Washington suburb of Wheaton, Maryland, was one of many events around the country to tout the overhaul's advantages for older Americans.
They are considered an essential voting bloc because they show up reliably at the polls on Election Day, and polls show many are nervous about what the new law will do to Medicare, their government health insurance.
"Your guaranteed benefits will not change. Eligibility won't change. Medicare will continue to cover your costs the way it always has. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor," Obama told the crowd of about 200 retirees before taking questions at the event and by telephone.
Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress pushed through healthcare reform, his White House's biggest legislative success, in March, after months of bitter partisan wrangling with Republicans, who say the plan is too expensive and an unwarranted government intrusion into a private industry.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell dismissed Obama's renewed health care push as "this major P.R. campaign to try to make something that's immensely unpopular popular."
He said, "And I assume all this is designed to occur before the November election."
REMEMBER THE DEATH PANELS
Obama took aim at the opposition, who he said have spread "nasty rumors" and misinformation to scare older Americans.
"The death panels, remember those?" he asked, referring to charges from some Republicans during his push to pass the healthcare law that the program would include panels to determine whether the sick and elderly should receive care or be left to die.
"You have an entire party out there that is running on a platform of repeal. They want to roll back all these reform efforts," Obama said.
The event was timed to come before the first mailing on Thursday of $250 rebate checks to help the elderly pay for medications, one of the most popular provisions of the plan, which Obama signed into law in March.
At least 20 of the 50 U.S. states have joined a lawsuit seeking to overturn the sweeping reform of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system.
The states behind the suit, most with Republican attorneys general, claim the healthcare overhaul violates state government rights in the U.S. Constitution and will force massive new spending on hard-pressed state governments.
Obama told the audience that his plan would cut costs and included provisions to cut wasteful spending, and would not bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs.
Obama also announced new programs to fight Medicare fraud, in another effort to appeal to those older than 65.
Whoever said being old was miserable was full of it, and there's a study to prove it. The New York Times published an article ("Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says") about a recent Gallup poll survey that came to a surprising conclusion about the correlation between age and level of happiness. The Conclusion? Despite the aches, pains and difficulties we associate with growing old, as people age they actually get happier. Good news, huh?
According to the article:
The survey, covered more than 340,000 people nationwide, ages 18 to 85, asking various questions about age and sex, current events, personal finances, health and other matters.
The survey also asked about “global well-being” by having each person rank overall life satisfaction on a 10-point scale, an assessment many people may make from time to time, if not in a strictly formalized way.
The results, published online May 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were good news for old people, and for those who are getting old. On the global measure, people start out at age 18 feeling pretty good about themselves, and then, apparently, life begins to throw curve balls. They feel worse and worse until they hit 50. At that point, there is a sharp reversal, and people keep getting happier as they age. By the time they are 85, they are even more satisfied with themselves than they were at 18.
Well, well, isn't that wonderful news! The article takes stabs at why this late-in-life increase in happiness might be: environmental changes, paradigm shifts or, perhaps, changes in brain chemistry. That all sounds reasonable, but here's my guess: good ole retirement! For the entire article, click here.
Jay Bloom's Alternative To Retirement: Returnment!
Last week, Jay Bloom, former CEO at The Morrison Child and Family Services, visited our office to reconnect with Carolyn Sheldon about his work with aging populations. Jay talks about the "spiritual need and moral necessity for redefining retirement with returnment."
Returnment – n.
1) The act of giving back or returning in some small way what the world has given you.
Tom Brokaw referred to the generation before the boomers as the “Greatest Generation.”These groups grew up during the Great Depression, and were generally parsimonious and thrifty when it came to savings versus consumption.As the “greatest” generation dies off, there will be a significant wealth transfer to many boomers on top of the already significant affluence that many boomers themselves have created.
The boomers have been described as a much more independent, “live for today” group.They are already showing signs that they will not approach retirement in a traditional fashion. Boomers are going to have great difficulty relating to the terms senior, elderly, old, and mature.In fact, most of them will resist, I believe, the term “retirement” in general.
In the August 25, 2000 edition of the Portland, OR Business Journal, Serge D. Rovencourt, retired general manager of Portland Hilton Hotel said, “I have retired from the Hilton, but I am not retired.I tell you I am going to find another word that is different from the word retirement.Retirement lends itself for people to say, ‘Well, he is tired, that’s the end of it.’There has to be another word other than retirement.”
In a past edition of Modern Maturity, AARP’s membership magazine, editorial director Hugh Delehenty commented, “Baby boomers don’t want to consider themselves seniors—forget that word.”Marc Freedman, author of the book Prime Time: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement & Transform America,commented about this new age of life:“I am very interested in how we are going to use this gift of thirty extra years that we have been given over this last century.”Boomers are being given an incredible gift; a whole new age of life that has been unprecedented in human history, an age where they will have incredible choices, flexibility, opportunities and for many of them, the financial wherewithal to pursue these choices.
Midlife has also often been a time to reflect on one’s purpose and life’s meaning.It is a great opportunity to explore one’s deeper personal values.It also often creates greater awareness of one’s death and the whole process of dying.As Morrie Schwartz said in the book Tuesdays with Morrie, “Until one knows how to die one cannot learn how to live.”
Mark Gerzon in Listening to Midlife: Turning Your Crisis into a Quest, comments:
“From the perspective of mentors such as (Albert) Einstein, (Ernest) Becker,
(Jean) Houston, and (Joseph) Campbell, aging and death do not undermine
life’s meaning; they actually give life meaning.Like artists, we are compelled
to make choices within limits.Just as a painter has a canvas of defined size
and a sculptor has a limited amount of clay, we human beings have a limited
amount of time.With it, we can create beauty, love and meaning, if we dare!”
Today, we have few public models of what to do with this new age.Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter are two very visible examples.Since the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency both Jimmy and Roselyn have kept productive through local, national and international efforts to bring affordable housing, better mental health services and attention to human rights and peace on a global level.
The most significant question is whether boomers will primarily choose to use these new years to pursue a life of consumption, leisure and increased isolation from other generations, or whether they will be actively involved and engaged in the real issues and challenges our children, families and our local and international communities increasingly face.
John Sweeney on the Economics of Co-op Living for Seniors
Last December, John Sweeney, member of Applewood Pointe of Roseville Cooperative, explained to prospective Sheldon Cooperative members some of the financial benefits to cooperative living. The video is so information rich that we thought it was well worth re-posting, for The Sheldon Co-op members and prospective members alike. Enjoy!
The Jewish Review recently ran a feature article on The Sheldon Cooperative. The Sheldon has many ties to the Jewish community, as Mark Desbrow- the developer of the Co-op- is Jewish, and the Co-op is to be located adjacent to the Oregon Jewish Museum. We are very grateful for the press.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Young Jewish developer Mark Desbrow and architect and community leader Bing Sheldon have joined forces to create a 62-unit senior cooperative development neighboring the new Oregon Jewish Museum.
This project will be an age 55+ co-op that offers a new option for those looking at their next phase in life. Members will own shares of the building rather than the individual units. The project is expected to open in late 2012.
OJM Director Judy Margles commented: “We love our new neighborhood and all that it affords. The addition of a housing cooperative is sure to bring even more vitality to this area and we are excited to be next door to this exciting venture.”
The more "walkable" the neighborhood, the higher the home's value, a study finds.
We know that pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are generally safer (busy streets typically drive crime elsewhere) and healthier (walking burns approximately the same amount of calories per mile as does running), but does "walkability" actually increase home values? According to a recent study by C.E.O.'s for Cities, a group of urban redevelopment advocates, it does.
The study looked at the sales of 90,000 homes in 15 markets in order to estimate how much value was associated with "walk scores" from Walkscore.com, a website that uses a 100-point scale to rate the number of destinations, libraries, parks, restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance of a home.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
The study found that houses with above-average Walk Scores commanded a premium. It was as much as $30,000 in cities like Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Sacramento and San Francisco, wrote Joe Cortright, the study’s author and an economist at Impresa, a consulting firm in Portland, Ore.
The correlation failed to hold in 2 of the 15 cities studied — Bakersfield, Calif., and Las Vegas, where housing prices decreased in walkable neighborhoods.
So far, there is no definitive study concluding that the more walkable neighborhoods hold their value better when the real estate market declines. But Mr. Cortright wrote in a study done a year earlier for the same group that the spike in gasoline prices in 2005 popped the housing bubble. He found that distant suburbs had the largest declines in home values, while prices in “close in” neighborhoods, typically those that were the most walkable, held up or, in a few cases, increased.
Click here to read the entire New York Times article, "Street Corners vs. Cul de Sacs." Also check out Walkscore.com to rate your home's walk score. C'mon, it's fun! We did it, and The Sheldon rates as a "walkers paradise," coming in at 97/100 points!
We'd like to extend a big thank you to the reporters of the Portland Business Journal for helping us spread the word of this interesting and unique project. If the reporter, Wendy, had been about a decade older, I'm pretty sure she was ready to sign up! Read the Portland Business Journal front page article here!
Be a part of a supportive, comfortable and active community. We envision a building of friends that is highly sustainable, right on the streetcar, and in the heart of the NW neighborhood. Individual homes will consist of large open living rooms and kitchens featuring floor to ceiling, operable windows and large balconies. Everyone will be able to grow flowers and vegetables, utilize the exercise room and gather in the lounge or patio areas.
Watch for more stories, ideas, and experiences coming soon!