How to Keep Your Community Thriving in the Event of a Recession
The duty of a homeowner’s association is to provide stability to the community of homeowners you oversee. Traditionally, this has meant creating community rules, managing a budget for maintenance, and providing an overall positive community environment. In the event of a recession, an HOA can provide much needed structure and stability to a community. Having a plan in place to provide support for the community in more ways than are explicitly required of it is the sign of a healthy and prosperous Association. This holds especially true in a recession, where economic anxiety can be high and the potential for a struggling community could be devastating. However, there are many ways that board members and your HOA management company can help provide financial stability to your community.
Provide Economic Resources
There are plenty of great economic resources available that will be a great asset to your community during times of financial difficulty. These can range from news publications to online financial gurus specializing in personal finance. If your HOA frequently utilizes an email newsletter, you have a great opportunity and platform for providing this information for your consumers. Look for online guides on how to maintain financial stability in times of hardship. If there is someone on your board who’s great with financial writing, they could help by writing community-specific financial resources for your newsletter.
Another great resource for your community during financially stressful times would be providing different apps that can help people manage their finances. If your community is particularly tech-savvy, consider suggesting an online banking app with useful savings features. These can be a great way for your community to save money, especially if they’re switching to a bank with no fees. Community members with access to bank feature like automatic savings and getting paid early will also be a good way to ease the financial stress in your community. You can also suggest budgeting apps such as Albert, a digital personal finance assistant. Albert tracks your expenses and income and provides recommendations on where you can save money.
Furthermore, in a recession, it is inevitable that products such as groceries, gas, and hygiene items are going to see an increase in costs. Consider assigning someone on your board the task of putting together a selection of coupons for every newsletter for these essential products. This way, when financial times get particularly difficult, your community will have access to a great resource for saving money.
Be Smart About Your Budget
Within an HOA, maintaining a budget should already be one of your top priorities, but this holds especially true during a recession. Your community looks to you as a source of financial stability, and they need to trust that you are handling their HOA fees responsibly to make the community a great place to live in.
While in a recession, it may be best to maintain a budget that requires less spending. This comes with the added benefit of lowering your community's HOA fees. During a time when there is lots of financial hardship, allowing your members to save on fees is going to be a weight off of your shoulders. When you decrease spending, you are also guaranteeing that your spending is going only to things that are absolutely necessary during a recession. This may mean cutting back on expenses going towards community social events in order to put that money to use on things like maintenance and security.
At the end of the day, the way your HOA handles a budget needs to be a decision handled by the entire community. The board's vote is going to be important, but this is going to be a time when you can reach out to the entire community and allow them to get their say on this issue. At the end of the day, it’s most important to make decisions that will work best for your community.
Protect Your Community from Crime
While there is still a lot of debate on the matter, it is a widely held belief that crime increases during a recession. While this may not be 100% the case every time, (as we saw during the Great Recession, where crime rates actually saw a decline) people’s fear of crime rising during a recession is not something to be overlooked. Many homeowners may be worried about valuables being stolen, and the cost of damages after a break-in. Others may fear their older children will turn to crime while leaving high school and college during times of high unemployment.
No matter the situation, it is important to remember that you, as a homeowners association, have ways to alleviate people’s fears about crime in the community. To begin with, you should always be properly vetting individuals trying to enter your community with criminal background checks, which can be a great way to provide security to your neighborhood. A community that knows that it’s members are not at risk of committing a crime will already have people feeling safe. Another way to keep things safe is to create a neighborhood watch, or partner with a local neighborhood watch group already in the community. These can be a great way to keep people vigilant about potential crime and suspicious behavior. However, remember that as a homeowners association or neighborhood watch member, you are not the police, and you must act within the confines of the law.
Stay on Top of Property Maintenance
Keeping a home well maintained at a low cost is no easy task. Recent studies have shown that homeowners are stressed due to property maintenance and upkeep that can be incredibly costly at times. 65% of homeowners feel financial stress about maintaining a property, and 75% say that this is due to potential home repairs that might need to be performed.
Your homeowners association should always be providing upkeep on properties that you are responsible for maintaining. Because of this, you have a great opportunity to help homeowners feel less stress about property maintenance costs. However, you should always be striving to get those home repairs and maintenance performed as soon as possible, especially during times of financial difficulty. Having a leaky roof is hard enough, but having a leaky roof during a recession can add even more unnecessary stress to one’s life. By staying on top of property fixes, your community members will have a weight off their shoulders.
At the end of the day, there are many great things that you can do with your homeowners association to help your community members not only stay afloat during a recession, but thrive. The resources and support you can provide people are invaluable, and your community will be glad they have a homeowners association that cares about them and helped them through difficult times.