WAUKESHA COUNTY
E
NVIRONMENTAL
ACTION LEAGUE
Protecting Waukesha County's Natural Resourses since 1978

WEAL

Representing the Waukesha County community for the protection of Waukesha County's natural resources through dedicated grass-roots participation and action.

Creating Housing Built for the Future in SE Wisconsin

The April 3rd issue of TIME magazine had a special report on Global Warming and said, “Be worried. Be very worried.”  All of us need to be thinking about the way we live and making decisions about what we can do to reduce our impact.  The way we live in single family homes is very wasteful. Not only are we having to heat and cool four walls and a ceiling to the outside, but we each have to have our own mower, tools, and guest rooms. 

A group of people in the Waukesha and Milwaukee areas are looking at our housing and deciding to do things differently.   We are forming a housing cooperative for active adults 55 and better.  We have found a company (Realife Inc., http://www.realifeinc.com/) that has created over a dozen 30-140 unit cooperatives in the Mid-west.  They have agreed to coordinate the project. Because we are a group of interested buyers, Realife is more amenable to listening to our design and amenity desires.  It is important when looking into the future and looking into our pocket books to find ways to save resources and energy while creating a place were we can afford to live and that will be something others will want also.

Realife has agreed to look into green building issues and investigate the cost/benefit of solar and solar hot-water. Realife has announced that there seems to be enough interest and the demographics of the area is such that it will support TWO such housing cooperatives, one in Waukesha and one closer to Milwaukee.  What Realife learns and applies to these projects regarding alternative energies and building practices will be of benefit to his company because he knows that energy prices will only be going up and Global Warming will only be finally sinking in. 

We are seeking people who are interested in living more simply, enjoying both their privacy and their social lives, conserving water, energy and tools.

Our vision is a housing option that will give us a quiet and private home but that will also allow us to just step out our door to find a community of friends and activities (reducing our need for car travel). It will be a place where we can remain active and involved.

·         80 living units

·         For active adults 55 and better.

·         Private apartments are complete homes

·         Common spaces are wheelchair accessible and all apartments

·         Common space designed to encourage the feeling of shared community; including a library, car wash bay, kitchen and dining/game/movie room(s), fitness room, laundry area

·         All appliances high efficiency

·         Beautiful landscaping with outdoor places to sit, walk, and gather

·         Designed with some environmental conservation in mind such as low-flow toilets, organic drought-resistant landscaping, and we are hoping for some alternative energy

·         Cars will be relegated to the basement

·         Easy access to shopping and other amenities

What is a Housing Cooperative?  Housing cooperatives are a form of multifamily homeownership.  Shareholders or tenants join together to form a not-for-profit cooperative corporation which owns the building in which they live.

Residents buy a share (membership) in the co-op, but the cooperative owns the building, land, and any common areas. Residents are entitled to live in a housing unit as part of their membership benefits. Members pay a fixed amount each month that covers basic expenses, including mortgage, property taxes, and more. As owners, members exercise control over their housing situation by electing a board of directors made up of other residents. This varies from a condominium or town home, where residents each own their individual housing units and are responsible for their own mortgage.  Studies have shown that people who live in cooperatives have more interaction and sense of community and remain active longer than those who live in a condominium or single-family home.

What are the Advantages of this kind of Cooperative?  Privacy: The members live in their own apartment complete with a full kitchen and living room and choices of one or two bathrooms and one or two bedrooms.  Community: The members share common facilities and along with their shared ownership, a greater sense of community is experienced.   Studies have shown that seniors living in cooperatives stay physically and mentally healthier for longer as compared to those living in their private home or condo.  Ownership: Members actually own the cooperative through their share ownership of the not-for-profit cooperative corporation; there is no equity investor or landlord.  Control: Residents govern the cooperative with assistance from the managing agent.  Cost of Operation: Occupancy charges are equal to only the actual cost of owning and operating the property. In a rental, rent generally goes up faster than actual costs because most landlords are in business to make a profit.  Individuality: Initial members are able to customize their dwelling units, including a choice of floor coverings, cabinet colors, and various structural changes.  Homeowner Tax Advantages: Mortgage interest and real estate taxes are tax deductible in a housing cooperative.  Equity Growth Potential: In a Realife Cooperative, members earn limited equity on their unit based on the amount of time they live in their home. The earning of limited equity keeps it affordable for the first members and future members.  Overall Value: Expenses in a cooperative are spread across the entire membership proportionately, making the cost of living generally lower than a comparable single-family home.

To get on the “Future Neighbors and other Interested Parties” List, email Sue Straley at [email protected] or call her at 262-844-8469 cell 262-542-8891 Work M-Th.