Anonymous from New Haven County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I serve on the Board of my co-op and have done so for several years. I am concerned that because they are so few co-ops in our state, unit owners and even the associations itself largely goes unprotected and unrecognized. Everyone knows what a condo is but few know what a co-op is. Do you have any ideas on how co-ops can get better protection and recognition for unit owners and the association as a whole?
Mister Condo replies:
You are right that there are far fewer co-ops than condos in our state, Anonymous. However, there are not so few that you can’t find resources specifically dedicated to housing co-operatives. At the national level, there is a wealth of information available online at the website for the National Association of Housing Cooperatives (http://www.coophousing.org/). Regionally, the Cooperative Housing Association of New England, also known as CHANE, offers great local information and resources including local workshops. Their website is http://www.CoopHousingNewEngland.org. CHANE is located right here in Connecticut! If you haven’t already done so, you really should take a look at their “Roles, Risks, and Rewards” training program for Board members and others interested in co-op governance. Finally, the Community Associations Institute offers resources both nationally (http://caionline.org) and locally (http://caict.org) that are readily available to you.
As for recognition, 2012 is your year! The National Association of Housing Cooperatives has proclaimed 2012 to be the “International Year of Housing Cooperatives”. The stated goal is to raise awareness of the value of housing co-operatives at local, state, national, and international levels. You can read more about it at the NAHC website or download the newsletter describing the movement in PDF form at http://www.coophousingnewengland.org/images/CHB_7-11.pdf. One of the ideas to promote cooperative awareness is to hold a local celebration. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a party! Why not schedule your own celebration and contact your local media to cover the event? Be sure to invite your local elected officials as well. You’ll raise awareness and have an opportunity to discuss your issues with fellow co-op residents in an open and fun environment. Save me a slice of cake, please!