Musical Rooms and a Suite Vacancy

Water-heating solar panels top uRth HAUS.

uRth HAUS has just celebrated its first full year of official existence. The original residents signed and submitted their leases on 20 October 2012, with rent payments beginning 1 November 2012. Of the original fifteen, three members have already moved out before their first year was up, and two more are departing now. We are looking for some new members to replace them.

In particular, we would love to have a couple, or a pair of very close friends, or just two people willing to share space, to move into the second-floor suite. The suite has a fireplace (not ready for use as of now) and an adjacent full bath. One resident could claim it for $1,133 a month, or two for about $675 each—groceries and utilities included.

As of this writing, we have one new member due to move in next week. He will likely take over one of the third-floor rooms, but is willing to share the suite with another friendly person. We had another member signed up, but life circumstances are calling her back to her family’s home in another state, at least for a while, and she will not be moving in for now. That leaves one vacancy…or possibly two.

The current occupant of the second-floor suite is looking to move into one of the smaller rooms. That leaves the suite open. The sheer amount of square footage in the suite justifies a monthly rate of about $1,100 for one person, all-inclusive.

It may be difficult to find one person willing and able to pay that much to live in a cooperative dwelling. (The current occupant of the suite is rather unusual, a free-wheeling Bohemian eccentric with a salary and benefits.) We charge about $200 a month for a second person to cover that person’s food, electrical, water, gas, and Internet. In addition, a contractual rent increase of 3% goes into effect soon, pushing the entire cost for two residents up to about $1,350.

HAUS Project welcomes adult applicants of all ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and religious backgrounds.

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Associate Memberships and Community Partnerships

As of its most recent meeting, the HAUS Project board has drafted, edited, and voted into effect a new standard policy for establishing associate membership and community partnership criteria and privileges. Anyone in the broader community who wishes to support and be part of HAUS without actually living at one of the co-op residences may apply to become an associate member or community partner. There is a limit on the number of associate members for each of the HAUS houses, but no limit on community partners.

You can find more information on the HAUS Project membership page. Below is the policy in its entirety, as currently written (with light editing) and subject to change. Notations and clarifications appear in parentheses.

i. Associate Members: Non-Resident Members who generally enjoy all of the benefits of Resident Members excluding a room.

1. Benefits include: a vote in the house they are a member of, participation and a vote at the Annual General Meeting, 24-hour access to all common spaces and amenities including kitchen at all times, access to laundry facilities, internet, eligibility for becoming an At Large Director, membership to NASCO (North American Students of Cooperation, the continent-wide association for housing and business cooperatives).

2. Costs: One time $50 Membership fee + $100 per month + an average of 1 hour of labor per week to be determined with their house’s labor czar.

3. Requirements: must have other residence and complete the normal resident membership application process.

4. Associate Members will be limited to ⅓ of the total membership rounded down of current Resident Membership of any house (i.e., 5 for uRth HAUS, 3 for Rosalie HAUS).

ii. Community Partners: Generally individuals who wish to participate in the HAUS Project community in a greater capacity and/or wish to be considered for service as a Community Board Representative.

1. Benefits include Sunday Dinners, participation in the Annual General Meeting, eligibility for Community Board Membership, HAUS Project Google Group.

2. Costs: $35 per year.

3. Requirements: cannot be current resident of HAUS Project.

While it has not yet been codified, there is also a plan in the works to ensure that associate members get first priority in filling residential vacancies when they arise.

The $50 annual fee for associate members mostly covers membership in NASCO. The $100 monthly fee covers the expected use of food and utilities, and works out to less than the $7 daily fee for long-term guests that uRth HAUS charges.

The main reasons for the limits placed on associate memberships are 1) preventing a block of associate members from outvoting resident members or derailing consensus at business meetings, and 2) preventing absurdly long queues for the one washing machine or dryer at each location.

Community partners do not receive all the privileges of membership, mostly for legal reasons. There is currently no limit on the number of community partners, but no matter how many there may be, there is a limit on their representation at board meetings (though I’m not sure at the moment what that limit is—one per house, I believe). As currently configured, the board has seats for two community representatives.

At $35 per year, the cost of community partnership is an incredible deal: about fifty Sunday dinners for the price of seven, given that we request a $5 donation or a potluck contribution of food. Also, the Annual General Meeting is a day-long seminar worth several times that annual fee. The AGM combines HAUS Project business and “visioning” for the coming year with informative and entertaining workshops on all things co-op.

As of now, there is no separate application for either of these positions, but the process is essentially the same for associate members as for resident members: Complete the online application, come to two or more house functions (dinners or business meetings), and pay the annual fee along with the first month’s membership as a deposit ($150). The first applicants to meet all of these criteria will be the first considered for associate membership. Members then have 48 hours to raise blocking objections to applications based on known malfeasance or insoluble personality conflicts.

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HAUS Goes Solar!

Water-heating solar panels top uRth HAUS.

Water-heating solar panels top uRth HAUS.

Just wanted to announce that both Rosalie HAUS and uRth HAUS now feature solar panels for heating water, as mentioned in this post last month. Thanks to Paul Schechter and the crew he assembled, uRth also got some long-needed work done on its exterior, fixing ancient bits of the facade that were falling apart, and some interior work as well to make the place more livable, especially in the bathrooms.

Paul would be better qualified to spell out the details of what got installed, what it does now, what it has the potential of doing, and how much more energy efficient we are as a result.

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New Members, Scary News, Solar Panels

uRth HAUS abides. The turnover from July to August has brought some turnover in membership: two departing, two replacing them. Two of our current members have moved into the rooms that those departing vacated, and the two new members have moved into their old rooms. Got it? Good.
One of our departing members is moving locally; the other will be traveling with a companion in South America. We’ll miss them, certainly, but we uRthlings are happy to see them pursuing their dreams and ambitions. Meanwhile, two new personalities bring some excitement to the place.
There was no difficulty in finding new members. After we posted the vacancies at the beginning of July, applications came in at the rate of one every other day. Then it was a matter of whether the applicants could visit us at dinners or meetings and decide whether living here was right for them, and vice versa, and whether the timing was correct for them to move here from their current housing arrangements.

Scary News
Last week, within a couple of days, the Museum Park Neighborhood Association sent out two alerts regarding incidents in this district. On Thursday morning 1 August, there was an attempted robbery at the Caroline Collective. The target of the robbery had a handgun that morning, having been accosted there previously by the same assailants, and he shot two of them, neither fatally. One of our new members has just moved her office out of the Collective due to its impending closure.
The next morning a fire broke out at a small strip shopping center on Blodgett Street at La Branch. After the HFD extinguished the blaze, MPNA sent out requests for neighbors to help move art objects from the Jatad Gallery. About a dozen locals responded to the call.

Solar Panels
HAUS owner/member Paul Schechter has contracted a firm to install solar panels to heat the water at both HAUS properties and an apartment building that he owns near the University of Houston. We should have more details and photos when the work is completed.

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uRth Labor Holiday 27 July

Workers of uRth, unite!

The members of uRth HAUS recently voted on the date of the next labor holiday: Saturday 27 July. Labor holidays are mandatory, day-long opportunities to contribute to the beautification of the house. In this case, the focus will be on painting the interior common areas, although laborers may opt for other chores. For example, the garden can always use a little help. General cleanup around the grounds and a deep-clean of the kitchen are possibilities, both of which goes much more smoothly with a group.

Non-resident members, prospective members, and friends of HAUSmates are also welcome. Hanging out with HAUS is a highly entertaining adventure under any circumstance, and working beside them is very rewarding. Also, we will feed you. There is usually beer. There is also usually some kind of celebration afterward. Even if you can drop by for only part of the day, we appreciate your efforts.

We get started fairly early. Come by around 9 am, dressed for painting. Bring brushes, rollers, or other equipment if you would like to, and make sure to label your stuff with your name or initials.

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uRth HAUS Joins Museum Park Neighborhood Association

uRth HAUS (1917 Ruth) has opted to take advantage of the benefits of membership in the Museum Park Neighborhood Association (MPNA). The HAUS has purchased a family membership, which entitles it to two voting members at monthly meetings, the same as any other family.

HAUS members Jaime Lawson and David Collins have had some opportunities to converse with officers and other members of MPNA, who have expressed great enthusiasm about HAUS Project. Indeed, there is generally positive feeling among these concerned citizens toward such concepts as urbanism and sustainability; they would like the neighborhood to embody those concepts, in addition to the esthetic and quality-of-life concerns that neighborhood associations typically address. They advocate smart, mixed-use development, with walkability built in.

The Museum Park Super Neighborhood includes the rather amorphous area known as the Museum District, which overlaps some blocks traditionally considered part of Third Ward. It is bound by US-59 to the north, TX-288 to the east, Hermann Park to the south, and Main Street to the west (plus the area around Chelsea Place just west of Main). However, MPNA President Seán Murphy has noted that these boundaries are permeable, and any resident in the Greater Museum Park vicinity is welcome to join.

The Super Neighborhood is loaded with treasures beyond its multiple museums and exhibit spaces. It contains a wealth of historic residential and commercial architecture, more plant life per square mile than most densely populated urban spaces, and Third-Ward gems such as radio station KCOH and the Forward Times newspaper.

MPNA general membership meetings happen on the first Wednesday of each month, usually in the carriage house of the Clayton Library, 5300 Caroline Street between Oakdale and Prospect.

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Some Rhodes’ People came to visit!

Rhodes’ is a little co-op in Memphis that visited us and then wrote a blog about it! Check ’em out!


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Video: The HAUS Project featured on Permacyclists

The Permacyclists are a couple traveling around the world via bike to have an adventure, raise awareness about environmental issues, and document grass roots environmental projects around the world. They visited the Rosalie Haus on their way south to Mexico and eventually to South America.

Green Living in Oil Country – Permacyclists #2 from Permacyclists on Vimeo.

About the permacyclists:

Fall 2009 became our official departure date; Africa became our first destination.  We spent 16 unbelievable months cycling through twelve countries before deciding to leave our bikes behind and continue on by public transportation.  We are currently en route to Rio de Janeiro, hoping to arrive in time for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012.

On the way we’re making short documentary films about grassroots environmental projects. Are we professional filmmakers?  No.  But we’re not letting that get to us.  We’re also visiting cafes and bookstores to show our movies and talk some about the amazing work being done every day to make a better future for us all.

If you’d like to join us and hear about all the latest news, feel free to “Like” us on Facebook, “Follow” us on Twitter, or “Google” us on our Google Group.   No spam, we promise, we’re vegetarians…

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Press coverage: “Green Living in Oil Country” in The Atlantic

Located on Rosalie Street in downtown Houston, the HAUS co-op is a stunning example of eco-conscious living in action. For the eleven passionate people who live there, it’s more than a home–it’s a way to make a difference.

It all began in January 2011, when Paul Schechter purchased a condemned building that had fallen victim to flooding. He renovated it in full eco-style, with a suite of low-cost and creative green building features. Today’s the house’s residents epitomize green living in everything from the food they eat (all locally grown) to the water they drink (fed from a rainwater catchment system) and the car they drive (run on vegetable oil). Perhaps most importantly, they share every resource and divide every task evenly–proving that group living can be green and fun.

Full Story: Green Living in Oil Country
Source: The Atlantic, November 29, 2011

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Press coverage: “Living Co-Operatively” in the Midtown Paper

Full Story: Living Co-Operatively
Source: Midtown Paper, 2nd Qtr 2011

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