NAHC’s 58th Conference Lights the Way for Cooperative Members

A wicked witch, Snow White, Raggedy Ann, a gorilla, an assortment of M&Ms and a slew of other characters kicked off the 58th annual conference of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives (NAHC) during a Halloween-style opening reception in Phoenix, Ariz.

Nearly 400 people representing 80 cooperatives, including 77 first-time attendees, learned more about cooperatives. During the opening session, President Greg Carlson welcomed attendees, and Chairman Fred Gibbs introduced the NAHC officers and acknowledged board members.

Linda Brockway listens whileNAHC Education EndowmentGrant awardee Sharon Thigpenof University Court Cooperativein Newark, N.J., speaks.

Former NAHC President and owner of Oakes Management Company, Vernon Oakes also discussed his radio show, Everything Co-op. He mentioned he had won an affordable housing award from City First Bank for it. Oakes said NCB purchased recording equipment so he could go on the road with his show now in existence for five years. Oakes said he has travelled to Seattle, Wash., Birmingham, Ala. and to NCBA CLUSA’s Co-op Impact Conference in Alexandria, Va., interviewing cooperative experts. He invited conference attendees to sign up for his show. Audrey Dickerson, president of St. Joseph’s Community in Roxbury, Ma., took up Oakes on his offer.

Additionally, conference attendees had a variety of courses from which to choose. They evaluated the top workshops as “Are You in Trouble? Common Problems Cooperatives Face & Solutions” presented by Fred Gibbs and Hugh Jeffers. “Dealing with Difficult People” facilitated by Karen Braunscheidel and “Three P’s in a Pod, Policies, Procedures, & Best Practices” given by Natalie Mabbitt tied for second place. The third-place winner was Dawn Bauman and Judy Sullivan’s “Public Policy Trends Impacting Housing Cooperatives and Condominiums.”

Paul Hazen, executive director of the Overseas Cooperative Development Council, said in this keynote address that housing cooperatives are the key to affordable housing. He shares a moment with NAHC Chairman Greg Carlson.

Kevin Thorbourne of 236-unit in Huntington Station in New York said his favorite workshops were “What Tears Down a Cooperative” and “Dealing with Difficult People” that had standing room only. Thorbourne said the cooperative’s mortgage has been paid off and that the Phoenix conference was his 8th or 9th.

Mamoon Nabilis, board treasurer from Forest Hills Cooperative in Ann Arbor, Mich., said he came to the conference, his third, to become a better board member.

“It’s not just to solve cooperative issues, but to get to meet people,” he said. “It’s a luxury to learn new things.”

Nabilis, who has lived in his cooperative for 22 years, moved in when his son was crawling. Now his son is a member in his own right and lives in the cooperative with his own family.

This was William Hunter’s first conference. His favorite courses were “3 Ps in a Pod” and “Technology for the Cooperative.” Hunter is board parliamentarian of Greenbriar Townhouses in Albuquerque, N.M., a cooperative with two- and three-bedroom units. He said carrying charges range from $436 for two bedrooms and $550 for three bedrooms. Hunter said the limited equity cooperative costs $10,500 to move into a two bedroom and $15,500 for a three bedroom. He said the cooperative’s mortgage was paid in December 2017 and held its mortgage burning in January 2018. Now he said the cooperative is working on a strategic plan and is increasing its reserves and transferring money into its capital program.

NAHC members “haunted” the opening reception.

A member of Highlands Cooperative Association in Lansing, Wis., shares her cooperative spirit with Ralph Marcus, NAHC board member.

This was also Gracie Johnson’s first conference. Johnson, who has been a member of Washington Hill Mutual Homes, Inc., in Baltimore, Md., for 30 years said she came to the conference because her cooperative does not offer board training. Her goal was to network, take classes and find out how other boards run their meetings. Johnson is president of the 218-unit market-rate cooperative that has a mix of apartment and townhouse style units.

Speaking of learning, this year’s Education Endowment Grant recipient was Sharon Thigpen of University Court Cooperative in Newark, N.J. The fund enables a member of a cooperative that is experiencing financial hardship to attend the NAHC Annual Conference and gain the education and training from the programming to help improve their cooperative’s financial status. The fund covers the cost of the member’s conference registration, air travel, hotel expenses and a per diem for food and beverage expenses, which was set at $124 a day for Phoenix.

Fun included the Strut Your Stuff luncheon. Participants danced to lively tunes by Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and other pop stars. Cooperators of High Park Gardens in Newark, N.J. wore blue and white jerseys with the number of years they have served on the board printed on the back. They also donned blue and gray camouflage hats. Members of Highlands Cooperative Association in Lansing, Wis., wore pink cowgirl hats, shook pink pom poms with one member wearing a pink tutu. United Winthrop Towers in Chicago, Ill., wore matching purple and white track suits with white baseball caps. RCMs were also recognized (see Member Recognition for details).

Attendees also had the opportunity to visit many exhibitors: Blue Hawk Cooperative, Midwest Association of Housing Cooperatives, NAHC, National Cooperative Bank (NCB), New Views for Non-Profit Housing, Realty & Mortgage Company and Walter & Dunlap.

NAHC thanks its sponsors: Centennial Mortgage Company for the conference bags; Kirkpatrick Management Company, hotel key cards; and NCB for the lunches.

This year NAHC will celebrate its 59th annual conference at the Hilton Miami Downtown in Miami, Fla. Registration opens in June.