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Work Agreement FAQ


Daybreak Cohousing is a self-managed community and relies on the good will of residents to volunteer their time and skills on two teams, attend our two-hour monthly plenary, participate in two monthly workdays, and team projects to benefit the entire community.

“Through cooperation and some proximity, the members of cohousing communities build social relationships and work together to address practical needs. This kind of relationship demands accountability, but in turn provides security and a sense of belonging.” states Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett in their book Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities.

Many Daybreak members claim that teamwork is the number one way they form and maintain strong connections and friendships.

What is the work agreement?

A: Our current Work Agreement was consensed on September 15, 2013.

It states the expectation of every adult resident is to volunteer an average of 6 to 12 hours per month to properly manage and maintain Daybreak. Residents may choose to contribute more than the minimum. The actual hours needed to “properly manage and maintain” Daybreak has not been tracked.

Research, planning, facilitation, and all other intellectual work is valued and needed as much as physical work such as building maintenance and repair, weeding, or cooking and assisting with community meals. There are many options for fulfilling your participation agreement each month.

Teams recruit help from the community outside of their team and guide interested members on tasks that need to be done.

What kind of work is not done by the residents?

A: Our agreement says “we will hire professionals as needed.” Each standing team decides what tasks are beyond their skill level or time availability to complete and budget for those tasks to be completed.

There is no clear process for deciding when a team has full authority to make decisions or when a proposal needs to be brought to the community for a decision. 

Is each individual responsible to do work or is every household responsible?

A: The work is divided among responsible adults according to their capacity. So all adults from the same household are expected to contribute. This applies to renters, long-term house sitters, and owners. We have no system, other than honor and trust, to track whether they do.

Residents are encouraged to support each other to contribute fully. If a resident has concerns about another resident’s participation, that resident should speak directly with the person or engage a Process Team member for assistance.

Can a member pay the community instead of do volunteer work?

A: Maintaining the community ourselves keeps operating costs down and HOA dues affordable. Some cohousing communities have developed a pay-instead-of-work-system (donate $15–25 per hour instead of work) that pays for outside help when residents are unable to contribute.

These programs are successful and ease tension and conflict between residents. Other communities hire a management company to handle certain tasks to lower work demands and provide a reliable standard. Daybreak has yet to implement these alternative systems.

What happens if a resident or household can’t or won’t participate?

A:  We ask residents who are unable to complete work hours for a month or more to inform the Steering Team and request “inactive status.” Inactive residents are expected to inform the Steering Team on their status before each monthly plenary. Inactive status is updated in the resident Directory.

The intention of inactive status was to accommodate illness or a temporary emergency and was not meant to be a permanent condition. Being inactive affects quorum counts and can negatively impact community maintenance, decisions, as well as morale.

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