If You Can’t Beat ’Em . . .

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ’EM . . . Two single-family houses in Midtown, 1505 Rosalie and 1917 Ruth (pictured here), have been home since 2010 to an assortment of yoga instructors, police sergeants, and college students, all of whom share the cooking and cleaning in a cooperative housing project, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Nancy Sarnoff. Part of Houston Access to Urban Sustainability, the houses require all tenants to sign a “sustainability pledge” before they move in, but that doesn’t mean it’s all rainbows and rain barrels: “Each person is responsible for contributing five hours of labor to the house per week. Those who shirk their domestic duties are fined $10 for every hour missed.” Sarnoff adds: “There are regular parties and events, though the housemates are quick to stamp out comparisons to hippie communes or college frat houses. Such misconceptions frustrate Rabea Benhalim, a corporate finance attorney who says some think the residents can’t be professional and they all do drugs and sleep together.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo of 1917 Ruth St.: HAUS

17 Comment

  • A house with a bunch of professionals as roommates? How is this news?

  • Why the pretense? Lets call a spade a spade, it’s a hippie commie commune, regardless of how you spin the PR. Sharing equal tasks is inefficient, duties should be reserved to each who is best at each, that’s how the greater society works.

  • Previously reported on by Houston Press nearly two years ago, in an article that isn’t behind a paywall.

    Slideshow from Houston Press

    Rosalie HAUS also won the Houston Press award for Best Sustainable Dwelling in 2011.

  • If I were single I’d be interested.

  • Have a little common sense, who says they have to spend each of their mandated 5 hours doing the same thing? Equal time doesn’t equal the same tasks. Five hours cooking is the same as five hours gardening, but that doesn’t mean there has to be a set division of labor.

  • How I picture Commonsense browsing the news:


    Seriously though, this is pretty neat. If I had heard of this when I was new in town and single, I may have given it a shot.

  • PREVIEW, touche!
    Still, the whole concept seems hippy.

    Ian, you forgot that I’m doing it from my overpriced Apple product made by Chinese slave labor while driving an SUV while oppressing the minorities along the way :)

  • Communism? Nyet. If you don’t do your chores, you simply have to pay a fine of a bourgeois-pleasing $10/hr. There’s nothing more capitalistic than that. Just ask BP!

  • @Commonsense: I completely agree. I tell my wife that she is best at cooking and cleaning and I am best at sitting on the couch and watching football (my wife doesn’t even understand what a first down is). What is odd is that my wife is not a hippie by any stretch of the imagination, but insists on a hippie-esque sharing of the cooking and cleaning, while not offering at all to share in my football watching duties.

  • “duties should be reserved to each who is best at each”–Commonsense
    “From each according to his ability”–Karl Marx
    Somebody call Ted Cruz!

  • What? No drugs or everyone sleeping together? It sounded interesting until I got to that part.

  • Robert Boyd, interesting stretch, but no, you totally misused that quote and left out the second more important part, but who’s checking.
    My point was, time is money and someone who’s better at fixing A/C should not waste time doing the dishes. Although I do admit their arrangement does not preclude it, somehow I feel they make everyone do the dishes.
    If there were drugs and orgies involved, it would actually seem less bizzare of a concept.

  • Can you outsource your duties by hiring a maid and/or cook?

  • It’s funny how some fervent free marketers also seem to want to dictate how some people (with whom they don’t live) should divvy up their household chores.

  • Commonsense, the best part about a commune of this type is that it’s everyone’s choice whether to stay or go. If they don’t like it there’s an alternate arrangement which allows for more independent living. There’s nothing repressive or Stalinesque about that.

    In college, I lived in what some might consider a commune for nearly 5 years. I put in more than my share of work, but I earned money off people not wanting to do their work. I actualy earned some decent money which got me through some lean times. I was more “conservative” than most living there, and I could have left at any time for a different arrangement, but I felt like that was the best place to live cheaply.

  • Cooperative housing can work – and it can work really well. It is finding a great group of people who all want to COOPERATE that can be difficult. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I like this a lot.

  • From mollusk: It’s funny how some fervent free marketers also seem to want to dictate how some people (with whom they don’t live) should divvy up their household chores.
    I think the point he was making is one way is more efficient and effective. There are economic “laws” regarding comparative advantage that show the most effective way to divide labor.
    Free people can decide to do whatever they want, however they want, but it won’t change what is the “best” way to do things.