Though they may live close to each other, people can feel isolated in an urban or suburban environment. While high-rise residential buildings put families near one another, living close doesn’t turn a group of neighbors into a community and that’s understandable, since people are busy and schedules are hectic. In some buildings in their downtime, few residents eagerly attend an HOA board meeting or socialize with their neighbors. But attracting committed board members and creating a sense of community improves the quality of life within the building and saves money. It’s good to know that there are many ways that co-ops and condos can work to foster a stronger sense of community among their residents, while also attracting new board members and committee members.
Whether you live in a city or in the suburbs, people don’t always want to interact with strangers, because they’re used to being on their guard. Others feel no reason to socialize. In some multifamily communities a significant percentage of the residents are renters, who may not be as fully invested in the community. Some are newly arrived shareholders still stuck in a renter’s mentality, and don't immediately see the value in forging connections with their neighbors.
“A lot of the problem is most co-op and condo owners are working people. Their time to participate is limited,” says Steven Gold, president of Hudson View Associates in Manhattan. “When I see them get involved, it’s something infringing on their life.”
In some buildings, part-time residents who also live elsewhere are not always attuned to what’s happening in their municipality or their local neighborhood. People with busy careers and families don’t have the time to volunteer, and some people prefer to remain anonymous and don’t want to be involved. Too often, members of a community don't see a reason to get involved with their association. When things appear to be running smoothly, most don't think their help is needed.
"In homeowners associations, it's a microcosm of society," says Gary Wilkin owner and president of Wilkin Management in Mahwah. "In many cases, people don't want to be involved in the process. Fewer and fewer people want to go to the meetings because somebody else is taking care of it, and they don't have to."