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Homeowner Guides 5 Ways to Transform Your Community

As an HOA resident and board member, you understand the value of community. It may even have played a part in your decision to live in an association community. But American communities – including HOA communities – are facing many challenges, from rising crime to foreclosure to feelings of disconnect among residents. Sometimes, it seems that maintaining a strong community is harder than ever. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you have the power to transform your community for the better. Your HOA board can do more than just enforce community rules and manage funds. You can also spearhead an effort to turn your neighborhood into a truly great place to live, a foundation for great families, great communities and a great America. With a little effort, you can live in a thriving community – a place where your neighbors are people you know, people you can count on, and people you can call your friends. Imagine what your life would be like if all of those things were true. Imagine what it would be like to be part of a true community. Think that dream is out of reach? It isn’t! You can start to make a difference where you live today. Read on to learn about five things you can do to start transforming your community today.

5 Things You Can Do to Transform Your Community 1. Create a vision 2. Focus on achieving core goals 3. Communicate with residents 4. Cultivate leaders 5. Don’t give up

© Copyright 2012 by Associated Asset Management. All Rights Reserved. |

Homeowner Guides 1. Create a Vision Before you can transform your community, you need a clear vision for what you want your community to become. Imagine your ideal place to live. How would you describe it? What qualities would it have? As community leaders, your HOA board can take charge of creating a community vision, perhaps in the form of a vision statement. This vision statement will clearly articulate what you want your community to become. Creating a community vision requires some work. You’ll have to brainstorm, discuss, and come to a consensus with other residents about the future of your current community. You can do this by holding meetings, doing surveys, or through casual conversations. The important thing is to get a lot of people involved in the discussion.

Get People Involved! • • • • •

Surveys Community meetings Online discussion Casual conversations with residents Articles in community newsletters

You can begin the visioning process by asking some simple questions, such as: • • • •

What does your community value? Why have people chosen to become members of your community? What do people feel is lacking in the community? If you could change just one thing about your community, what would it be?

You may want to try several different strategies for gathering feedback from residents to ensure that you get input from as many people as possible.

What Is Your Community Vision? Once you get started on creating a vision, you may find that certain themes emerge. For example, you may discover that people envision a safe, family friendly community, or a community where neighbors know and support each other. Perhaps some people want to live in a community that embraces “green” philosophy, while others are looking for a community that values great recreational opportunities. The key is to determine what is most important to your community. Reaching a consensus may take some work, but eventually, you should be able to develop a concrete vision statement, as well as some preliminary ideas for how to turn that vision into reality.

Sample Vision Statements • • • •

A Community That Works Together A Safe Place to Call Home A Family Friendly Neighborhood A Premier Recreational Community

© Copyright 2012 by Associated Asset Management. All Rights Reserved. |

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Homeowner Guides 2. Focus on Achieving Core Goals Creating a vision for your community is an important first step. But a vision statement, no matter how well-phrased, is meaningless if you don’t take steps to turn that vision into reality. Once you know what people want from their community, your HOA board’s role is to find a way to move from vision to practice. What specific things can you focus on achieving in the short term that will help your community achieve its long term goals? For example, let’s say your visioning process revealed that people want to live in a “green” community. To turn that vision into reality, you might start small, such as establishing a community recycling program, or planting non-invasive native plants and installing drought-tolerant landscaping in common areas. Or, if your vision for your community involves being family friendly, perhaps that means upgraded play equipment, organized play groups for parents with small children, or activities for kids (such as a Halloween parade or Easter egg hunt). If safety and security are a concern, an active neighborhood watch committee might be part of the solution. When developing specific goals that will help transform your community, make sure the things you want to achieve are meaningful but also realistic. Set goals that are too lofty, and you risk failure and frustration. But if you don’t do enough, your community may not see the significant change you desire.

Your Community Vision into Reality If your vision is....

Then consider...

Increased neighborhood safety

Forming a neighborhood watch or implementing enhanced security measures

A family friendly community

Setting up play groups, upgrading play equipment, or organizing special activities for families with children

A “green” community

Implementing recycling initiatives, eco-friendly landscaping, or planting a community vegetable garden

A community where residents support each other and give back

Sponsoring community food drives, organizing fundraisers for resident families in need, or creating a volunteer network of people willing to help other residents (for example, have residents volunteer to shovel snow for elderly neighbors)

© Copyright 2012 by Associated Asset Management. All Rights Reserved. |

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Homeowner Guides 3. Communicate With Residents Transforming your community is an ongoing process, and it won’t happen effectively if residents don’t know what’s going on – and if they don’t feel that they have a role to play in the changes that are happening. As you develop a vision for your community and implement changes, keep residents involved at all stages of the process. Don’t fall into the trap of relying on one-way communication, where you simply inform residents of the HOA board’s decisions. Instead, reach out to people to encourage both participation and feedback. The result will be less conflict and a more excited, engaged community. How can you tell if your communication efforts are working? Take a look at the response you’re getting – or perhaps not getting. Are community meetings poorly attended? Are there few people participating in community events? Are board meetings filled with people who are only there to complain? If so, you may need to rethink your communication style in order to better connect with residents and address their concerns.

Embrace Community Change Communities are constantly changing, as some residents leave and others move in to take their place. With this in mind, make sure that your HOA makes a sincere effort to welcome newcomers when they arrive. These individuals likely chose your community for a reason – perhaps because they thought it would be a friendly, welcoming place. Don’t let them regret their decision. Welcome visits from community leaders, “new resident” packages, and other efforts can all help people feel like an important part of your community from day one. And that feeling of belonging means that new residents are more likely to get involved in the effort to make your community a better place.

Get In Touch with People These days, keeping in touch with residents should involve more than just a quarterly newsletter. Consider these options as well: A Safe Place to Call Home • • • • • •

Welcoming New Residents Take steps to make sure that new residents feel welcome in your HOA community: •

4. Cultivate Leaders Sometimes, HOA leadership can become stagnate, especially if there’s a lack of engaged residents who are interested in getting involved in community building activities. Worse, if just a few committed volunteers take on all the responsibility, they may eventually burn out. To keep your HOA vibrant, and to make it easier to transform your community, make sure to constantly cultivate new leadership.

A community website A community blog Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest Email discussion lists E-newsletters Invitations to meetings and events

• •

Host semi-annual welcome receptions for new residents Deliver “new resident” packages when people move in, outlining community policies and activities Feature new residents in your HOA newsletter Have members of your HOA welcome committee stop by to visit new residents and welcome them to the community

© Copyright 2012 by Associated Asset Management. All Rights Reserved. |

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Homeowner Guides Current HOA leadership should look for potential new leaders and work on grooming them to eventually take over. This kind of succession planning not only ensures that organization remains lively, but also helps to see that valuable institutional knowledge is not lost as long-standing volunteers leave the board or become less involved. You need more than just a few dedicated volunteers to truly transform your community. Getting as many people involved as possible will make it easier to achieve your goals, and allow you to develop future leaders who can continue to help your HOA adapt and thrive for years to come.

Recruiting Future Leaders •

5. Don’t Give Up Transforming your neighborhood into the community of your dreams won’t happen overnight. It will take creativity and hard work. You may find that some of your ideas fall flat, while other initiatives that seemed insignificant are extremely successful. The key is to not give up. An HOA should be a resource and partner in helping residents design the community that they want to live in. Let residents know that you are ready to start building the community of their dreams today. They are likely eager to start making positive changes – if you’ll give them the tools to do so. A 2012 survey by Community Associations Institute (CAI) found that 70 percent of people who lived in association communities rated the experience as positive. And every year, many of those residents donate their time to making their community a better place – at an estimated annual value of $850 million, according to CAI. You have current residents who want to create a stronger, more vibrant community for themselves, their families, and their neighbors. As an HOA board, you have the power to help them do that. Become a part of the movement to transform American communities. Demand more from your HOA and help us create a better America, one neighborhood at a time… starting with yours. Contact us today to learn more about our neighborhood association management services. Call 1-800-354-0257 or request a bid online.

Identify people who are already involved in other community activities, since they may be willing to take on a larger leadership role Use your newsletter, Facebook page, and other outlets to let people know that you’re looking for volunteers Use word-of-mouth to let your friends and neighbors know you’re looking to add to the board As you get to know people in your community, pay

“In every community, there is work to be done...In every heart, there is the power to do it.” – Marianne Williamson

About AAM AAM is one of America’s most-respected Homeowner Association (HOA) management companies. With more than 20 years of community management company experience to our credit and hundreds of associations under management, we are dedicated to creating a better America, one neighborhood at a time, starting with yours.

© Copyright 2012 by Associated Asset Management. All Rights Reserved. |

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Associated Asset Management (AAM) 5 Ways to Transform Your Community  
Associated Asset Management (AAM) 5 Ways to Transform Your Community