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meetings:2013-04-21

April 21, 2013

Present: Sarah, William, Hannah, Gatlin, McALlen, Vinny, Greg, Ryan, Cidnee, Beth, Jess, Marshall, Jesse, Hillary, Claude, Cynthia, Elaine, Mike, Donny, Nolan

New members

Cidnee, Cynthia, Vinny Second meeting: Will, Claude, Elaine, Jess, Beth

Vinny(?) has a cat.

Officer check-ins

Labor

Gatlin: Calling for things people have done over the email list. Going to work on tallying up what people have done over the evening, make sure everyone has done two hours.

Cynthia: My lease ends in May. Need to talk about my lease. If I move, have to pay a mover, but I'm comfortable staying where I am. We'll just work it out. I'm not moving; I'm comfortable and will be here a while.

Hannah: We want people to stay here.

Membership

Hannah: Cynthia touched on something; we need to get all the details straight so I can put a flier on the doors to tell people what they can do if they want to stay with us, or what to do if they want to take advantage of the moving assistance. Right now, coopers are paying $800 for a two-bedroom or $400 if they're splitting it. We have an item on the agenda to talk about letting people become members at their current rent amount until their lease is up. Been talking to HACA a lot. Can't talk about it because it's confidential.

Cynthia: I respect you for that.

Maintenance

Donny: Lots of maintenance going on. Ryan really stepped up and joined the maintenance crew. Got a temporary AC unit for Luke. His AC didn't work even before we moved in. We became experts in installing portable AC units. We have a sink issue in 205. Fixed temporarily, but it's clogging up again. Need to get on that; fix the disposal or get rid of it.

Greg: Hillary and I have been working on the gas survey. Looked at five units already. Very few people have DFIC outlets in their bathrooms in their kitchen. It's a safety requirement; if you're working with a hair dryer and drop it in some water, it won't keep running and electrocute you. It's current code. When these things were built, that code wasn't around. They're grandfathered, but doesn't mean they're safe. When we have the panels replaced, I'm pretty sure we need to bring the wiring up to current code anyway. Will make sure everyone has safe outlets in the kitchen and the bathroom. Was recently told about a new style of GFIC circuit that uses a different technology that's more effective than the GFIC outlet. A little more expensive; not terribly more expensive. We're going to put those in. Need to plan on about 60 of those outlets. Simple to install; we can install without needing an electrician.

Nolan: Do we have a timeframe for doing the panel replacement?

Greg: I've been preoccupied the past week. Haven't moved that forward at all.

WILL: How many are you putting in each unit?

Greg: Total of 3; 2 near the sink. Any outlet near water needs to have these circuits. One in the bathroom.

Cynthia: My house is okay.

Greg: We want to do what's safest.

Elaine?: The ceiling and the fan. Need to do this or they'll need to do the inspection again.

Ryan: Will be done by the 8th.

Food

Jesse: Put together a food survey on Friday. Attempted to send it out to the listserv but got deleted. Will send out Monday. Don't have internet in my apartment. Will also have paper copies. Will be discussion on the agenda.

Treasurer

Ryan: We finally got some checks in. Made some reimbursements to Hannah. If any of you have bought things for the coop, please let me know. If you bought a bunch of food for the first potluck, I'll reimburse, but won't for any future ones. Trying to finance some AC units. A single one will run about $4-5k for a complete replacement. Trying to get some financing. Have energy auditors coming tomorrow to see what we can do to qualify for an Austin Energy energy efficiency loan. Haven't done any work on the sliding scale; would like to see that happen but haven't had time. Need to have an idea to deal with a situation with Section 8. originally charged someone a late fee, but someone told me that it was Sasona policy not to charge late fees for under $100. Either nothing happens, or I have to give someone a notice to vacate.

Gatlin: Sasona policy is not to do anything for under $100, but we also haven't said that we were adopting Sasona's ;policies.

Cynthia: By law, they need to pay rent, and that's the bottom line.

Ryan: Going to give a notice to vacate tomorrow. That's the default that I'm working with.

Will: I don't want to see anybody get evicted.

Sarah: Do we want to make this an agenda item?

Ryan: There's a different item, but it's related.

Community outreach

McAllen: Plan to have a survey out. I don't have it because there's a miscommunication about the best way to get the information out. Had fliers but you all have got a lot of fliers already. That's not going to happen until next week.

Hannah: We're going to start having office hours this week. Mike is going to start doing a couple hours from 3-5 on Wednesday, and I'll have an hour from 5-6 on Sunday. If you have trouble with your lease, you can talk to me, whether you're a resident or a non-resident, especially if you're a resident wanting to join the coop. If you see me around, you can just talk to me. Also, was slightly remiss in accepting members on their second meeting. At Sasona, non-members walk away, and we ask if any members have any compelling evidence that the prospective member would be evicted, for not paying rent, abusive behavior, etc.

William, Elaine, Claude, Jess, and Beth have been two two meetings and are accepted.

McAllen and the payment plan

Hannah: McAllen has been involved since the beginning, even before me and Mike.

McAllen: I wrote a check, but you haven't cashed it.

Hannah: He has not paid first month's rent. At Sasona, we have a policy that you can go on a payment plan, even for your first month's rent. McAllen wants to go on a payment plan for his first month's rent. McAllen's payment plan, under Sasona's policies, needs to be paid off by the end of the lease term. His lease term can't be two months because that does not help him out anymore. We need to decide what contract he is going to sign for at least six, or he would prefer twelve months, so he can get on a graduated payment plan.

Jess: Can we vote now?

Hannah: You're not a member until you start paying dues. Can contribute but can't vote. If McAllen's going on a payment plan, needs to be paid off by the end of his lease. Doesn't think he can swing $400/6 or $400/2, so needs to be a 12-month lease, but our current lease is not ready to go in a permanent state. CHEA also has an addendum so that we can change the lease term within 30 days. The tenant has 7 days to back out. Ie, we could increase the rent in an emergency. I'm suggesting that we sign our current lease, for $800 and no food.

Gatlin: The template at Sasona has a box for the number of months. Could we not just write 12 in that blank?

Hannah: We could, but we're locked into the terms that we give him unless we give him 30 days notice. Need to make sure the terms we sign are terms we can be okay for McAllen to sign for a 12-month period. I think we should go with the lease we have, to get him in here.

William: Some discussion of a graduated scale.

Hannah: Still up in the air. Ryan is working on that.

Greg: CHEA/La Reunion, etc. can enact any kind of contract they want. I suggest separating these things and having a contract with McALlen to pay off his rent, and keep the lease a separate item.

Gatlin: La Reunion is not an organization.

Greg: I don't think it needs to be this complicated. We don't know what everyone's lease will be. I think we can just have a separate contract.

Hannah: I'm not a lawyer. Don't feel comfortable drawing up a contract out of thin air. I'd like to modify a contract that we have already in place.

Cynthia: My rent is $750. Is my rent going to stay the same, or going up? My contract just started.

Hannah: Will stay the same until the next year.

Sarah: This is particular to McAllen.

Claude: My case worker says that it's no problem if I join the coop.

Cynthia: That's what they told me.

Claude: Need to do two hours/week. Going to need to have something less strenuous to do.

Sarah: Me, too. We'll figure it out. Will be alright.

William: Is there any way we could find a contract online?

Greg: I think the objection Hannah has is valid. There are ways we could go about it. I want to help McAllen to get in and to do it in the least complicated way possible.

Hannah: We have our contract that has been vetted by lawyers. It's the issue of having two separate contracts; we're not sure how we would make a contract.

Nolan: My understanding, from the limited legal training that I've had, is there's a lot to be said for a good, plain-language contract that says we're writing an addendum that says McAllen needs to pay off the lease. Lawyers say you need to pay them $100-200/hour to work with them, but, if we have a plain contract, I think we're okay. I think we could do that without making it airtight.

Gatlin: I move that we allow McAllen to write 12 in the appropriate box and pay special attention to iron this out when we have more information.

Ryan: What kind of payment terms do you want, McALlen?

McAllen: to pay my first month's rent in twelve increments.

Hannah: friendly amend that to allow mcallen to sign a 12-month lease with first month's rent paid out on a payment plan?

Proposal passes 8-0-2.

Labor

Gatlin: Some great points were made at the last meeting. Email is convenient but not everyone has it or wants to use it. I intend on making things easy to understand for everybody but will not always have this position. Would like everybody to do the same thing, so move to make this policy.

Nolan: Can we add “in a timely manner?”

Amend Labor Czar description to state the following:

- Plan and post the labor schedule for each week. Maintain running faux pas sheet with who was indicted, what for, the plaintiff,

     and action taken to resolve the situation.

- Maintain a running tally of each individual house members number of no-shows and make-up hours owed. Penalize faux pas'

     according to house policy. Maintain a publicly available format of each house member's faux pas', make-up
     labor hours owed, make-up labor hours completed, and labor fines owed; update this spreadsheet every month when make-up labor
     is assessed and labor fines are assessed. Follow the any fine policy the house chooses. When assessing make-up labor hours,
     email them to the house. When assessing labor fines, email them to the house, the Treasurer, and the Bookkeeper. When a member
     exceeds the evictable limit for faux pas', inform the house.

- Create and maintain labor descriptions.

- Mediate between faux pas plaintiffs and defendants when possible. Communicate with house via meetings when plaintiff/defendant

     can’t come to a solution.

- Work with house officers to plan labor holidays.

- Run house elections according to applicable policy.

- Ensure that all labor matters are accessible and available to all members of the cooperative in a timely manner, regardless of ability or means

     of communication.

Proposal passes.

Amending bylaws (Gatlin):

Gatlin: Sasona is the only house that elects the CHEA treasurer. I had a bylaw and house policy amendment passed which divorces that on their end. House treasurers are the front line of collecting rent, making payment plans, doing things for the house. Corporate treasurers would be relegated to helping house treasurers, picking up slack, filing taxes, but the majority of the authority is at the house. It's already how we're operating. I just wanted to codify it.

Move to

- Alter Article V, Section 8 of the bylaws to state the following:

“Section 8 Treasurer - The Treasurer shall be the chief financial and accounting officer of the Corporation. The Treasurer’s primary responsibilities are to ensure proper and prompt filing of the Corporation’s tax returns; to create and destroy house-specific bank accounts as required by the houses; to be a signor on all CHEA accounts, house or otherwise; to review and advise the financial activities of the individual Houses; to take active responsibility for a house’s finances only in the event that a house is not able or willing; to coordinate the payment of any shared house expenses; to create, destroy, and manage CHEA accounts only when authorized by the Board; to help train and educate house financial officers; and in general, to exercise all powers usually pertaining to the treasurer or a corporation when strictly necessary. All powers not explicitly given to the Treasurer shall be delegated to the houses, pursuant to these bylaws. All powers and duties of the Treasurer shall be subject to the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation and these Bylaws, and to review and confirmation by the Board as determined from time to time by the Board.” ;

- Add the following to Article VIII:

“Section 6 House Finances - Each house shall be responsible for managing their own financial activities. Each house shall elect one or more finance officers, subject to any restrictions that house desires, who shall, in conjunction with the Corporate Treasurer, have active control of and be responsible for all accounts and finances of the house; shall supervise all vouchers and requests for payment by the House including records pertaining thereto; shall prepare or cause to be prepared accurate and understandable monthly financial reports of the finances of the House; shall prepare or cause to be prepared financial statements and related documents; shall have supervision of the books and accounts of the House; shall ensure that regular and accurate audits are performed according to financial practices and procedures applicable to the House; shall recommend depositories and financial institutions to the Board; shall have care and custody of all monies, funds and securities of the House in conjunction with the Corporate Treasurer and shall ensure that all funds are deposited in such depositories as are selected by the Board; shall be responsible for the collection of all accounts payable to the House; shall keep or cause to be kept full and accurate accounts of all expenditures and disbursements by the House; shall have the power to endorse all checks, drafts, notes or other financial instruments payable to the House; shall give or cause to be given proper receipts for all payments to the House; and in general, shall exercise all powers usually pertaining to a treasurer. All powers and duties of the Treasurer shall be subject to the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation and these Bylaws, and to review and confirmation by the Board as determined from time to time by the Board.”

Proposal passes 9-0-0.

Move to adopt the following policy for membership dues (Gatlin):

- Dues are to be deposited on or before the 7th of the month, or they are considered late. - If a member's dues are late and more than $100 is owed, they will incur a $25 fine on top of their dues. - If dues are not deposited on or before the 15th of the month then the offending member is liable for immediate eviction. - If a member is evicted for late dues, the member may appeal this at a house meeting within 7 days of the eviction; the eviction

     may be overturned by a simple majority decision.

Sarah: Your rent is due by the 7th. If you don't come up with a plan to pay by the 15th, we can evict you.

Donny: Friendly amendment to give a late fee only if you owe over $100.

Gatlin: Amended; fine will accrue if a member has a balance higher than $100.

Ryan: What if the person is not a member?

Gatlin: Doesn't affect them.

Sarah: If a member has a payment plan, does that apply?

Gatlin: If you're on a payment plan, you do not incur fees.

Sarah: You need to set up a payment plan by the 7th?

Gatlin: 15th.

Sarah: If they're incurring a $25 fee for rent not paid on the 7th and they set up a payment plan on the 8th?

Gatlin: That corner case would be really annoying for the person, but would owe the $25 since they didn't work out a payment plan before the 7th.

Sarah: So it's advisable to make a payment plan before the 7th.

Gatlin: I'll email the amendments, for the sake of clarification.

Proposal passes 10-0-0.

Allow current tenants to sign on as co-op members at their current lease rate, for the remainder of their lease

Hannah: Changing the lease is not a fast process with HACA. I don't want to change folks on Section 8's lease terms because it's a pain. Adding an agreement on top of their HACA lease saying that they will do labor and get the benefits of coop membership, for the remainder of their lease.

Proposal passes 9-0-0.

Food

Hannah: For folks who haven't lived in coops before, we typically have food included. Some coops do dinners every night. Some (probably what we'd end up doing) have dinner around 3 times/week. Some just have ingredient programs where you put money in and buy in bulk, so you save money, but no one cooks officially unless people decide to get together, but there's a big bin of rice, and it's cheaper than if you bought it yourself.

Assuming $50/month and 2 hours of labor, would you join? 3 meals per week and ingredients you can draw from.

Will: Roughly what time for dinner?

Hannah: Usually around 7pm.

9 in favor. (unanimous)

Do you want a food coop that collaborates to serve meals, as opposed to just buying in bulk?

unanimous

Would you be okay with a coop that strictly buys in bulk?

6-7.

Do you think this program should be mandatory, including to people that live here now and want to renew their contract?

Jesse: Came up on the listserv that some people might have difficulty paying $50/month for food. Most people are purchasing food. Can find ways of exchanging goods or money to participate in that exchange, so $50 is $50 but might be $50 that can be part labor, part money, part food stamps.

Hillary: What is the situation with food stamps in a food coop?

Hannah: Not sure. Don't want to get into it. It's a whole bunch of question marks.

Cynthia?: If I want to bring something, do I need to pay $50 worth of food, or can I just bring something? I like cooking. Have food stamps.

Hannah: I think there are a lot of people where you're at. Might not have $50 but have food stamps.

Gatlin: Is there any way we can tactfully ask what people spend on their own food?

??: Could ask ICC.

Ryan: $100 at Arrakis.

Gatlin: Wanted to ask a different question. What ICC does is great. It's a different group of people. Might come up with something unreasonable because we didn't ask this question.

Jesse: Not sure I feel comfortable asking that type of question.

Hannah: For me and Ryan, we spend $60/90/week on food when we don't have donations from Safe Place that we get excess of. We spend $300/month between the two of us.

Jesse: That's 7 days/week. We're considering three days.

Hannah: Do you think the food program should be mandatory for all new contracts, including new coopers, but not mandatory for people who lived here before April 1?

Cynthia?: Could have potlucks. Five meals are expensive, with one person on food stamps. Some people might not want to participate.

Mandatory for new members? 7-1-1?

Hannah: Most people are okay with most of the options.

Cynthia: Claude has a home health aid. Wouldn't be able to participate in the food program.

Hannah: I think we should experiment and try to introduce a food program that isn't mandatory for anybody.

Cynthia: I agree with that; fine with coming to a meeting and bringing something.

Hannah: Wondering if people will still hang out if it's not mandatory.

Cynthia: Some of us might. Some people have kids, and Claude is over there by himself. Maybe Marshall might want to be in the food program.

Marshall: I've been cooking a lot of my life.

Hannah: Going to propose at the next meeting that we have a non-mandatory food co-op.

Rent discount for Gatlin and Greg

Greg: Our new apartment is a lot less habitable than we realized or knew. Carpet needed to come out. Don't have a floor in the living room or one of the bedrooms. Huge harvest of roaches. We contracted to be residents but haven't been able to move in so far this month. Asking for a 50% reduction this month. Personally, I would like to donate my half to McAllen so that he can reduce his debt on the payment plan. I'm grateful that I'm here and fortunate in my current work situation so that I'm not financially pressed. That's a separate issue, but requesting a 50% reduction.

Hannah: We're talking about $400 for the two of them. Could come from the vacancy reserve. I believe there's something like $4,000 in there right now. I believe we could do this, and it would not hurt us.

Donny: Just to be clear, your room is not livable. You haven't been able to live in your room. Sounds reasonable to me.

William: Any projection as to when you'll be able to move in?

Greg: Within a week or two. Gatlin will move in sooner because his room is habitable. Will need to come downstairs to use the kitchen and the shower. We made a lot of strides last weekend. Going to put in some laminent flooring. It was carpeted, but now it's just concrete.

Hannah: I move that we allow Greg and Gatlin a 50% credit for next month's rent.

Passes 6-0-2.

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