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Dwight House - Shared Living Community Opportunity (Re)Forming Orientation

  • Feb 6, 2014 · 6:30 PM

This Orientation is specifically designed for people seriously interested in creating a community through co-householding in the next two months. This orientation is specifically for  people with the time, energy, and financial resources to secure a remarkable house on Dwight Way as a potential collectively managed rental community.  

DRAFT Agenda

1. Welcome; goals and purpose

2. What is EBCOHO, types of cooperative communities we include?  Introduction of the Coop Community Catalyzer and Network. 

3. Introductions 

4.  Getting to know one another; Speed-dating for communitarians

5. Vision for Dwight House (Mary Hill)

6. Timeline and status, documents,costs, steps for joining 

7. Wrap up and Closing

Children are welcome; quiet room available if needed; call/email about mobility access. 

The working vision: (read full document here)

Dwight House is proposed as a new cohouseholding community forming in Berkeley. EBCOHO is supporting a process to recruit new members designed with one such serious prospector who is looking to create a multi-generational home for a diverse community with members from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, family structures, as well as alternative lifestyles and sexual orientations. 

The house: 

The house, near Sacramento & Dwight, is a newly renovated 6200+ square foot Victorian landmark built in 1886. It is a designated historic landmark that now has 15-bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms total. There is a separate in-law unit (1BR loft-style) in the back of the house with its own entrance off of a 3000sf garden and grounds.    

The house has ample, well-lit indoor and outdoor common spaces, both large and small on each of 3 floors. The main floor has a very large great room and an open L-shaped kitchen with 2 sets of appliances and 3 sinks.  There are kitchenettes on the top 2 floors. The first two floors have very high ceilings and doors with original or period fixtures.  The top floor (former attic) has interesting angled ceilings, with lots of windows and skylights including the central area surrounding the staircase.   

The first floor has 5 entrances. Every floor can be reached by both the central staircase and through a very solid back outdoor staircase/fire escape with small decks at each upper floor. 

The house is not currently wheelchair accessible as there are steps at every entrance. Members could choose to install a ramp or lift with their own funds;  the first floor could easily accomodate a wheelchair. 

As currently envisioned, some of the different common spaces could be resources for coworking or private offices, educational workshops, urban farming, cottage food production, kid's playroom, guest room, or other uses. 


EBCOHO has launched a community accelerator process, that we're piloting by forming a new shared household in Berkeley of 15 to 20 members. Earlier burning souls called it Dancing Spirits, and then theTree of Light Collective. We're partnering with one former burning soul who had been actively organizing since last July. Our joint aim is to rapidly build a sustainable core community of people with the skills to live well together for the long run. Our immediate mission - send a strong proposal to the owner by Feb. 15, with a current target move-in date of April 1st! Come join the journey -- Raines & Betsy

Joining Process

EBCOHO will host member recruitment and training events through February and March; members will self-select by moving through several steps together before making a final decision. Along the way, you will share required trainings, and optional social gatherings, tours, and facilitated meetings to help you in making a good decision for youself and the group before the April 1 move-in. You can also join Steps 1-3 of the process to learn how to start your own cohousehold community or be on a wait list for future openings). 


Keep in mind, median rents in Berkeley are over $1300 for a 1 bedroom apartment. This is a unique and extraordinary opportunity for the right people to have more by sharing more, but it is not the cheapest housing around. 

As a group, members will be responsible for a $14,000 a month lease payment plus house expenses. (Maintenance should be very low because it is being heavily renovated before move-in). You can expect to pay between $850 - $1200 per bedroom, a little more for couples or children.  This includes house expenses and utilities estimated up to $170/month. There may be initial improvements such as landscaping and finishing the bike storage that the community could take on to make for a more competitive bid. 

• The separate in-law unit with a private entrance off the rear garden will be about $1600 a month for a couple.

While total move-in costs are not fully settled, core group members should be able to commit time and money upfront. The upfront amount may be around  $1800  plus $900 for the development accelerator process. A part of this total will also go to the first month's house operating budget. 

Membership Process: 

Step 1: Take the orientation ($20) to be up to date on the latest information. 

Step 2: If not already one, become a supporting member of EBCOHO at  $100 for the year (minus the $20 for the orientation). 

Step 3: Pay $400 to join the coop accelerator process coordinated by EBCOHO for Dwight House and other forming communities. This payment ensures your order in the queue of room choices at Dwight house which will happen later in the process.  One member is now at this stage. We're calling this the Prospector stage. At this stage you would fill out a self-assessment questionnaire. 

Everyone at this level is commited to attend 12 hours of trainings and share in the cost of legal and financial fees for startup. The trainings cover: a) collective house development (legal steps, financial management and budgeting for the house and you); b) communication and facilitation, and conflict resolution skills for good meetings; c) consensus decision-making;  d) governance and getting the work done with sociocracy; e) property stewardship and maintenance.

Those seeking to live in the house fill out a self-assessment questionnaire.  As you move to take Step 4, everyone will fill out a standard rental application,with 3 references, and a background check to share with the group. You will also sign the working occupancy agreement, which entitles you to be part of changing the agreement.

Step 4: Become the Dwight House core group member and take part in overall decision-making by making the full financial commitment.   

Core group members agree to put up an amount to be finalized, but roughly $2000 plus $500 for your place in the community. The $2000 goes into an escrow fund by Feb. 15. These funds will not be touched until move in, or it will be refunded if project doesn't go through. You commit to participate in a intensive 2-day weekend retreat currently planned for mid-March. This is $500/adult.  

This intensive, led by experienced coop trainer/facilitators will solidify your relationships and help you finalize agreements about house values, budgets, systems and occupancy agreement. Any surplus on the $500 will be shared between the community and EBCOHO to feed the house operating budget and other final startup expenses.

Note: EBCOHO is functioning as an accelerator/catalyst/networker/project manager  for group development. We do not represent the landlord (although she is also an EBCOHO Member). 

We are working with committed members on scheduling additional tours, socials, and walk-throughs, as well as uploading a virtual tour. For those joining the journey, a draft lease, and working budgets and occupancy agreements will be available. 

Join or login to comment.

  • Betsy M.

    Lots of info excellent questions; everyone was interested and 4 people committed. Some of us talked for another hour afterwards.

    February 10, 2014

  • Francine C.

    Hi! Hi! Hi! I am committed to something else that same night. How can I catch up after you have this meeting?

    February 5, 2014

    • Betsy M.

      See monday and thursday next week, or someone will contact you.

      February 5, 2014

    • Betsy M.

      Here's tonight's gathering where you can learn more:­

      February 10, 2014

  • amy l.

    I just responded to Raines re: where the meeting is held tonight? Can he or anyone else inform me?

    February 6, 2014

    • Raines C.

      Thanks for your RSVP, Amy. We just moved you from the wait list to the Yes list and sent you the address.

      February 6, 2014

  • amy l.

    Also, is the in-law unit available for an individual at the same price?

    February 6, 2014

    • Raines C.

      We'll be discussing tonight how to make all the numbers add up, Amy. Join us if you'd like to be part of that discussion.

      February 6, 2014

    • amy l.

      To what address do I go for the meeting?

      February 6, 2014

  • Mud H.

    Am I right in looking at the numbers, it would cost about $3,500 for all the initial fees and such, plus rent?

    February 6, 2014

    • Raines C.

      About that much, but tonight we'll talk about alternative ways to make the numbers work. It's all about win-win approaches to creatively sharing.

      February 6, 2014

  • Girvani

    Is there a pet policy, specifically are cats welcome? I also have a commitment for mid March to be out of town so, depending on dates, may not be able to be at mid-March weekend retreat.

    February 5, 2014

    • Raines C.

      The draft initial policy was for no pets just as a placeholder until members get together and decide what the policy is. If the community feels like it can manage all the potential impacts, then it may find ways to set appropriate limits and support some. Come to one of the orientations, tonight, Monday, or next Thursday, to get involved.

      February 6, 2014

  • amy l.

    Is it too late to inquire about Dwight House? Would someone email me re: any openings for 1 person and a small cat? I have furniture that would go beyond 1 bdrm, is there a way to discuss the possibility of public placement of such furniture?

    February 6, 2014

    • Raines C.

      We opened up a couple more spaces at tonight's orientation, Amy. Conversations about pet and furniture policy would be totally up to the group, which could include you if you get involved. If you can't make it tonight, sign up for next Monday or Thursday.

      February 6, 2014

  • Betsy M.

    We've just gotten final cost terms and schedule:
    3 year lease with an option for a 3 year renewal.
    $7000 is due by Feb. 15 along with proposal (refundable)
    Feb. 20 = $7000 (both payments now a non-refundable deposit)
    March 1 = $7000 last deposit and $14,000 in first month's rents.

    February 5, 2014

10 went

  • Raines C.
    Cohousing Coach and Aging In Community Author, Co-Organizer,
    Event Host
  • Betsy M.
    Cohousing Coach, Organizer,
    Event Host
  • marikat
    Dwight House community organizer - EBCOHO Supporting Group,
    Event Host
  • Emily & Matthew S.
    EBCOHO Supporting members through 12/31/15
  • Holly W.
    EBCOHO Supporting Member through 2/14/2015
  • Martha-Lou­ W.
    Supporting Member through Dec 31, 2015 and Voice Dialogue coach
  • Spring F. +1
    Prudence Crandall house - Supporting Group member
  • A former member

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Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.

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