Friday, December 15, 2006
Affordable Permaculture Housing
When I went to the workparty at EcoHouse, it really pointed up tp me that there's got to be a space for presentations. We were packed in so tightly the fire marshall would have had kittens if he'd stopped by. That's the awareness that propelled me up onto my entire homeownership/demonstration space story arc in the first place, years ago.
I've hired a business coach, Merideth Mehlberg, to help me launch a company that will find underperforming investment properties, retrofit them using permaculture principles, and then sell off the units to people who want to live in community, in connection to the Earth. My vision statement is coming along, and issues such as how to finance the thing are becoming clear.
I had a great meeting with an investment property analyst yesterday. Listening to him, I realized that the main reason so much affordable housing seems so... convoluted? to be involved with, is because usually it's getting funded (at least in part) with public money. The "public" gets quite a bit of say, in how the money gets spent. That's appropriate and fine.
I'm after an investment/development model that is unencumbered by that.
So my breakthrough insight is this: since I'll be working with private funds, we (the partners and I) can set up the corporation along whatever sort of financial risk and reward that makes sense to us. We'll run the bylaws past a lawyer or two, to make sure we're not violating any laws, but it's pretty clear to me that as long as you don't engage in discrimanatory practices you can do what you want with your money.
What we want to do is to pool our little bits of money, acquire a promising building, retrofit it into a small bit of ecotopia, and then split the ownership of it into an owner/tenant component and an owner/investor component.
There's two main places that permaculturists get to play: right off the top, first doing zone and sector analysis on potential worksites. Second, after the main construction is completed, to hold classes to share knowledge about gray water, native plants and edible food forests, earthen plasters and cob structures, community living and social justice, and so on.
I'm very close to launching an evolution.