Chicago Property Services Shows How Coronavirus Has Redefined Community Living

Now is the time to make a concerted effort to connect with fellow homeowners more than ever. Now is the time to reach out and connect with each homeowner within the community. Setup weekly online town hall meetings. Setup monthly online board meetings.

Originally conceived as a new housing form in Puerto Rico, community living took shape in Chicago in the early 1960’s by way of the passage of the Illinois Condominium Act in 1963. The concept offered home buyers a less expensive alternative to buying a single-family home and promised fewer headaches and issues related to maintenance and repairs. Since then, urban planners and developers have built a tremendous amount of community associations in and around Chicago with the larger high rises mostly along the lakefront, smaller condominium associations within the heart of Chicago, and larger Garden Style and HOA gated communities in the far suburbs. 60 years later, the number of community associations within the State of Illinois is now around 25,000. The other benefit behind community living envisioned was that it was supposed to encourage togetherness. The fact that so many individual homes are built so close together encourages the owners to connect with one another. Whether it is by serving on the board, attending board meetings, or attending social events, homeowners have multiple ways to meet their neighbors and form friendships.


Togetherness Didn’t Take Hold


Unfortunately, the concept of togetherness within community associations did not take hold as it was originally intended. Over the last 20 years, the demands of careers and the workplace have skyrocketed as the ubiquitous internet, and rapidly increasing technology has made it easier for employers to demand more output from workers. This has made it more of a burden to serve as a board member and has resulted in fewer homeowners participating in board meetings. Nowadays, fewer people have the time to do things that they would normally do outside of their work and career.


New Challenge


And now, people are all confronted with a new challenge within community living (and everywhere). And as a result, community association living is going through a transformation. Board meetings are now online, homeowners are sheltering in place, people are mostly working from home, and vendors are working with staggered or skeleton crews that have hampered the amount of services normally available to community associations. Some association board of directors are asking janitorial/cleaning vendors and restoration vendors to sanitize the common areas more frequently while other boards are facing an increase in accounts receivables due to the large number of layoffs and company furloughs that are hurting (financially) homeowners within community associations. To make matters worse, community associations don’t have any legal recourse at this time due to the current situation that has paralyzed the legal system/courts and government institutions. So where do homeowners go from here? What is the response to this societal crisis?


Adapt to the Situation


It is very simple. People adapt to the situation. People do not shrink in fear. When life gives people lemons, they can make lemonade. With the shelter in place order, many people are feeling disconnected and alone. It is best not to let this happen to homeowners within the community.


Connect with Others


Now is the time to make a concerted effort to connect with fellow homeowners more than ever. Now is the time to reach out and connect with each homeowner within the community. Setup weekly online town hall meetings. Setup monthly online board meetings. Find ways to ensure all homeowners within the community feel connected. This will truly pay dividends in the long run.


If there is a management company within the community, it is best to make sure that they communicate with the board and homeowners any change in response times or service performance due to the current situation. Make sure that any and all changes are communicated to the homeowners. Also, make sure to encourage homeowners to communicate with the board if they have fallen into financial hardship due to layoffs, furloughs or downsizing of staffing.


Try to Unite Homeowners in the Community


It is also time to review the overall performance of the association by analyzing areas such as capital planning, maintenance and repairs, board meeting dates, rules and regulations and financial controls. The coronavirus pandemic has taught everyone a lesson. The lesson is that community living is all about togetherness not about disconnectedness. Seize upon this opportunity to unite the homeowners within the community, show them that their health and well-being is at the top of mind for the board of directors. Together, everyone can make great things happen. With all the homeowners now spending most of their time at home, creating an enjoyable community living experience is now more important than ever.


About Chicago Property Services


Chicago Property Services was founded in 2001 by Salvatore J. Sciacca to create the finest community association management company in Chicago. Sciacca is the ‘nation’s foremost expert in the community property management industry and boasts over 25 years of real estate property management experience. As a former board member of a condominium association, he holds extensive knowledge in the community property management industry, which has resulted in a transformation in the way property management companies serve community associations throughout the Chicagoland area. CPS is the recognized leader in off-site community association management in the Chicago area whose goal is to provide cost savings, top tier customer service, education, and a seamless real estate buying and selling experience to its valued customers. www.chicagopropertyservices.com

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