A Neighborhood Association is basically a group of neighbors working together in an established group in order to build a stronger neighborhood and to maintain a certain standard of quality of living in their neighborhood. We will discuss in this article the basic steps required for starting a neighborhood association in the right way.
This kind of associations is usually organized as non-profit organizations and they are managed by the home owners. The main goal of a neighborhood association is to keep the neighborhood a pleasant place to live in and to maintain the property values as high as possible. A neighborhood association can also work as an effective link of communication with the local government. Most newly created neighborhood associations are organized in newly development areas, but they can also appear in established neighborhoods as well.
In the recent years, starting a neighborhood association has become more and more prevalent. Statistic studies show that they represented only about 1 percent of US housing by 1970, while in 2010 they represented around 20 percent of the US population with over 300,000 community associations in place.
A neighborhood association manages issues with relevance to the entire community, such as property maintenance, safety and security, and local provision of services. In some new development areas the community association of homeowners is formed by the developers when the community is built and buyers have to join the association as a condition of acquiring property in the neighborhood.
The concerns, issues, and needs of a new neighborhood association are determined by its core group. To start such kind of organization you need to create first a small core group of friends and neighbors. You will need then to inventory the neighborhood in order to identify the primary needs and issues your neighbors care about.
Of course, every neighborhood association will be different and have different focus. Some of them will be more general in nature and will be structured around various issues, while others will start in response to a particular crisis or issue such as an increase in crime or a redevelopment of the neighborhood.
Steps to start a neighborhood association
The first place to start with the creation of a new neighborhood association is with the city government. Most of the cities have a neighborhood relations department where you can have access to valuable information and regulations including even guides on how to set up a neighborhood association. Some cities can even provide special grants for starting such an organization in order to help and encourage the process.
In order to create a neighborhood association the right way you need to learn first about local laws and ordinances governing the community association formation. These rules and guidelines are set forth by state property codes. The procedure for establishing a neighborhood association depends on its location, but there are some common steps to follow:
- First you will need to establish a business structure for your neighborhood association by forming a nonprofit corporation or a LLC.
- The next step is to create conditions and restrictions that describe the rules of how your neighborhood association will operate.
- You will also have to establish a procedure for future modification of these rules of operation.
- You will need to draw up governing documents, such as bylaws outlining voting guidelines, meeting frequency, election of leaders and other operating procedures.
- You will have to elect qualified board members for your neighborhood association.
The core group of your neighborhood association will act as a steering committee and prepare the first general meeting of the association. The core group will have to prepare the following things:
- Create a list of small projects such as an email campaign or letter writing, a block clean up, or a fundraising event.
- Decide who you want to inform about your new neighborhood association, such as local government, community newspapers, other neighborhood groups, churches, and so on.
- Name someone in the core group to take charge in recruiting neighbors as general members of your association.
- Designate someone to take care of the in depth research of all the identified issues.
Once the core group has completed these first steps in creating the new neighborhood association, the next step is to decide on a time, date, and location for the first general membership meeting. Now your newly established neighborhood association is ready to start its activities.