When it comes to offering social programs and amenities, respective requests, needs, and preferences can run the gamut. For board members and managers, having programs in place that cater to collective populations—toddlers to octogenarians and all those in between (and beyond)—can be a quite a challenge.
“A community that has activities and opportunities to get together creates a much stronger sense of belonging and a much more positive atmosphere,” says Attorney Ellen Hirsch de Haan, who practices in Florida but has over 28 years of experience in the practice of HOA and condo law. “They have fewer disagreements, less challenges with the board, and more cooperation with the operations and governance of the community.”
A 2010 recipient of the Community Association Institution Award by the National Board of Certification for Community Association Managers, de Haan has penned three books about the subject including Boomer Shock: Preparing Communities for the Retirement Generation, Self-Management: A Guide for the Small Community Association, and A Place to Age. Earlier this year, she served as featured presenter at Community Associations Institute Community Association Law Seminar in San Francisco.
“You find that, across the country— depending on where you are—you are going to have a different type of culture, and possibly a totally different demographic mix,” says de Haan. “The Chicago area, for example, is very urbanized so will have a different way of doing things than a community in Texas or Tampa. Housing stock matters; geographic location matters, and cultural and demographic backgrounds, and—of course—age matters.”
Typically, a wide range of residents populate condos and co-ops; therefore, board members, social committees, and managers have to work in a collaborative fashion to ensure all residential requests are considered. Most likely, a young married couple raising children, for instance, will have different needs—like playrooms and day care services—than a retired couple who may prefer game nights and visits to museums.