My name is Alice Green and I'm 72 years old. For more than 20 years, I've lived in a wonderful cohousing condominium community in Berkeley, California. But I'll lose my home in a few months - and with it, the community I consider my family - unless the government agrees to let me reverse mortgage my home.
(Fall, 2016 Update: We were surprised and delighted by the response we got to this, over 10,000 signatures in one weekend! It got the government's attention, and we ended up going to DC and meeting with HUD staff and shifting FHA policy. But since differences in city and federal guidelines around our unique community are keeping us from pursuing this path (for now), and I'd rather do this in a way that benefits my friends and neighbors rather than a big commercial bank, I'm making do with what I have for now, and continuing to work, and with my neighbor Raines and others we're researching and co-creating community alternatives, like a Revolving Loan Fund and/or Permanent Real Estate Coop, perhaps in partnership with a Land Trust and Community Loan Fund. Read the recent articles in this section for more. )
I moved into this community because I wanted to live more resourcefully and "in community". My neighbors and I share a big common yard, laundry and meals three nights a week. It’s wonderful. I own my home (“free and clear”) and live on only $12,000 a year because I live simply and meet some of my needs through bartering and sharing. But my savings, part time income and Social Security can't keep up with Berkeley's high property taxes and my condo fees that cover maintenance, reserves and insurance.
Anyone else in my situation could apply for a reverse mortgage. But somehow, because my neighbors and I share some meals and resources like a laundry room, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) won't treat us the same as other condominium communities, and won't allow even a small reverse mortgage loan for my home.
With the help and support of my neighbors, I started this petition because I want FHA Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing Carol Galante to treat cohousing condominiums like all other condominium communities so I can get a reverse mortgage. By doing so, I hope the path will also be clear for others to continue living in supportive and engaged communities like mine.
Carol Galante, FHA Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for HUD
Treat cohousing condominium communities like mine the same as any other condo community so I and others can access reverse mortgages to help stay in our homes.
Please sign my petition calling on FHA Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing Carol Galante to let me reverse mortgage my condo so I can stay in my home, in the community I love.