Hanging Together Communities Unite to Solve Problems

 For community associations facing a world of economic uncertainty, the old  notion of “strength in numbers” has perhaps never felt more relevant. Because when it comes to tough problems,  the associations that are able to work together and sacrifice together are the  ones that usually end up stronger in the end.  

 In many cases though, neighbors start blaming neighbors when trouble strikes,  residents start blaming board members, and board members may find themselves  resenting residents. Strife and discord can spread like a disease through a  condo community beset by trouble, financial or otherwise. Even when money isn't  tight and things aren't especially bleak, apathy and disinterest in the  association beyond one's own front yard is a problem that all administrators  and boards struggle against.  

 There are ways, however, to encourage communities to stick together when the  chips are down. With some planning and some commitment, residents, board  members and managers can build a cohesive team that can cope with and resolve  problems, making a better life not only for themselves but for the community as  a whole.  

 Participation, Communication

 There are a couple of key differences between communities that hang together  during trying times and those whose sense of community spirit is non-existent  even when things are good, says Alan Crawford, owner and president of Crawford  Community Management Services in Rumson. "In the larger communities we find  that a lot of people in their busy schedules don't really get to the source of  a problem. But in the smaller, more tight-knit communities over the last three  years, we find that members will step up and say 'Hey, I have expertise in  engineering,' or 'My expertise is landscaping. I can give my time to this and we don't have to  pay somebody outside to do it.'”  

 "There are certain communities that are apathetic," says Philip Alampi of TAP  Property Management in Glen Ridge, "and then there are other communities that  have a sense of camaraderie, a sense of belonging to the community such that  participation is almost necessary to be a part of the community and to really  be active. We have two 55-and-older communities, and they tend to be more  involved, more active, more caring. On the other hand, we have one community  that is probably about 70 percent vacation homes and say 25 to 30 percent  year-round residences. Their communication is almost 100 percent electronic."