Condominiums Social Conscience By Phil Rosenzweig
In major urban municipalities in Canada as much as 20% of the population lives in apartments or Condominiums. Many of these buildings have security systems in place to allow for peaceful enjoyment and safety of their homes. In many cases, considering the climate of our culture in these times this need for security is definitely warranted. As Condominium Owners we have chosen this lifestyle and expect it to be maintained as part of the responsibilities of the Board or management company
Bylaws are a brick wall Many Condominium Bylaws also have clauses specifically not allowing solicitation or advertising on the common property. Having had to play the devil’s advocate on many Boards (on both sides of the question) I understand that allowing one organization to put up a poster or another to set up a clothing collection bin in the lobby can just open the door to a landslide of myriad of requests for everything, from everyone for everything. Once Pandora’s box is open how do you close it again and say ‘no’ to someone?
The issue is a hard one. Should one policy automatically close the door on everyone looking for help and acts of kindness? Sure, many Condo Owners choose to give generously of their time and money individually, but why couldn’t and shouldn’t a Condominium Community develop a social conscience of their own? Many charitable organizations have written off Condominiums because they simply cannot get onto the property and don’t know who they should contact
So What Could You Do?
If you agree that your Community should develop a social conscience here are a couple of things you can do to on one hand opt in and participate in the greater good, but at the same time keep a check on Pandora’s Box.
1. If your condominium has committees, consider starting a social action committee whose mandate would be to suggest a number of worthwhile causes that they would propose to the board that the Condo Community support, if you don’t have committees, consider starting one, 2. If your community has a social committee, consider giving the Social Action responsibilities to them, 3. Limit the number of causes the Community can support, build relationships with Community Organizations, 4. Consider adding a line item in your budget for Social Action participation,
5. Publicize the work of inclusion in social actions to your Owners, including newsletters and bulletin Boards, be selective don’t have too much going on at once, people will get annoyed and tune out, 6. Be approachable, let your property management Company know that you will hear requests from organizations and who the contact should be.
With 20% of the population living in Condominiums or Apartment buildings, that’s a lot of greatly needed help that organizations are giving up on during these tough economic times. Individually we can do much. As a Condominium Community we can opt in and methodically step up to helping in service or financially helping some of the many worthy causes your city has. No, we can’t help everyone with every cause, but we need to show that we’re engaged with the needs of the community as a whole.
Phil Rosenzweig is a member of the COFSAB Board, former property manager, and Warehouse Manager at the Lethbridge Food Bank.