In a sprawling urban or suburban environment, people can feel isolated, even though they live close to each other. While high-rise residential buildings and suburban subdivisions put many families near one another, living close doesn’t in itself turn a group of people into a community. Sometimes, it has the opposite effect. People are busy and schedules are hectic, and many don’t want to attend an HOA board meeting or socialize with their neighbors during their downtime.
But attracting committed board members and building a sense of community is smart, because it improves the quality of life within the building and saves money on building expenditures. And 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.
In the city and even the suburbs, people are busy and used to being on their guard, and aren't always eager to interact with strangers. Others simply prefer not 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.
Apathy is a large factor in the lack of community involvement in some co-op and/or condo communities, says Angela Falzone, property consultant for Chicago-based Association Advocates, Inc.
“People move into multifamily communities to have things done for them, and don't want to be involved, otherwise they would have bought a house. Realtors don't give them the right information, buyers are told ‘everything’ will be done for you, and they have no clue on the involvement that will be necessary,” Falzone says. Many condo owners are frustrated to learn about the level of involvement they might need to invest in the community, especially in smaller properties, she says.