Present: Sandra, Nolan, Sarah, Claude, Anne, Richard, Marilyn (minutes), Joshua, Paul, Andy, Ryan, Andy (facilitating), Cynthia, Rebecca, Lauren, Andi, Hannah, Don.
Kelly and dtr Josie, referred by Abby of Caritas, a hair stylist in training and a veteran, here for technical second meeting. Second meeting – Friends of Lauren, Sarah and Mac, interested in being members, Sarah has volunteered at Monkey Wrench bookstore; Mac is interested in building societies, travels a lot, any labor okay, knows tech. They are interested in sharing one bedroom; no pet allergies; Sarah has one cat. She is interested in grounds, remodeling. All three visitors were accepted as prospective members.
Minutes of September 27 were accepted.
1.a. Remove all meeting requirements for partner organization applicants (HACA and Caritas at time of writing.) Partner organization applicants must instead make a site visit and take a tour of the property . Site visits may only be offered if there is an opening which applicants may sign for. On the site visit, a member must explain how a coop works, and that if they do not abide by cooperative rules they will be asked to leave after one year. (Amended: replacing “member” with “MemCo or designee”).
Partner organization applicants will be given priority above associates and below current members when a full apartment unit becomes available.
Remove single occupancy cap, including the “Paul cap of 0.” (Amended: People who are exempt do not count toward the single occupancy cap, including housing assistance, singles with dependents, and pregnant women.) This replaces the current policy making every third unit available to partner organizations)
Discussion from Ryan: He feels this would address the desire of those who proposed a cap on single units, making it easier to include a more diverse population.
CQ/POI: Why a year-long contract? Because the precedent was set when we moved in and residents who were here to begin with had year-long contract. How does this relate to the single occupancy cap? To meet the desire for more diversity implied in the single occupancy cap. Why would we have a warning about cooperation included in this proposal? To better set expectations for those unfamiliar with co-ops. Can't tenants be asked to leave for non-performance of labor? It is very difficult to evict Section 8 residents, who have learned to fight evictions with legal help. Could language further clarify that those coming in through partner organizations may finish their lease but shouldn't expect it. Should giving a tour be part of an officer description? Why would these tenants get 12 instead of 6 month leases? Because partner organizations require 12 month lease.
Concerns/friendly amendments: The one person charged with explaining the co-op bears a heavy burden; would like to see further clarification. Organizing site visits and explaining the co-op are not assigned to any particular officer or labor position. Could it be a labor position or a flex labor position? Removing the cap has been added to two agenda items; is this a barrage approach to removing the cap? Would you be okay with dropping the cap? No, because if there is a cap there may be fewer single units available to our partner organizations. Another objection raised to including the cap in this proposal; it may help with diversity and gentrification, but these are long-term issues. Re: labor position – could be assigned to MemCo to delegate to someone else as a flex labor position. Re: Explanation of the co-op should fall to Membership or Outreach or their designee.
Friendly amendment: Replace “member” with “Membership Coordinator.” Accepted by consensus. Friendly amendment: amend from “member” to “Membership Coordinator or designee” so that if the MemCo is not available there could be someone else to do that task. Accepted by consensus. Friendly amendment accepted.
Friendly amendment to remove the language about a cap, not accepted, but may be willing to accept other amendments to the statement about the cap, e.g., right now the policy says that people with vouchers and people with dependents count toward the current cap. Friendly amendment: People who are exempt from the cap won't count toward the cap. CQ/POI: Why would they be exempt? Because now we have 7 exemptions, and 4 are on housing assistance, and those people can continue their leases indefinitely without counting toward the 7. Concern: this would potentially increase the number of single-occupancy units. Concern: the people who passed the cap were against people being “selfish” and having more space for themselves, and this seems to separate the two issues of a cap and diversity. How would this affect labor? It is hard to predict; that depends on how many people are in the exempt households. We have an abundance of labor; a shortage is not likely in the foreseeable future. If there are fewer people using the space there may be less need for labor, e.g., less cleaning required. Our mission to provide affordable housing should be our priority at this time. If we have single occupancy units; the more we have the fewer affordable rooms we will have? There is not a shortage of affordable single rooms in Austin, but there is a shortage of affordable 2 bedroom apts. Many of us here are in affordable housing more by choice than by lack of resources. Just because someone comes in on an agency referral doesn't mean it will be a single person. The net effect removes three units from the cap, but then we may not serve as many people. Is there already an exemption for referrals from partner agencies? If there are two people in an apt and one moves out, we cannot make available that unit for a referral agency. Proposed: Would Ryan feel comfortable if the next full unit were being sought by a single person? Ryan: Not if it is someone like our prospective member tonight. Corey: this seems to be tangential to the original proposal, with a lot of discussion of the cap. POI: If a unit is open and only one person is in line, we would need to exempt ourselves from the cap in order to keep the units filled. Response: The house could decide to cover the expense from the vacancy reserve fund.
Concerns and friendly amendments about the amendment: This doesn't seem germane to the proposal; reply that the cap is part of the proposal. We don't have a labor shortage right now, but this could change and should not be an excuse to lower the number of members doing labor. Friendly amendment passes by consent.
Main proposal: If current members are ahead of partner organizations, will this make it hard for referral agencies to bring in people? Yes, but that's okay because it is our responsibility to serve our current members more than our potential members. Ryan: if this item passes, he would table 1.c. So this proposal does not include single people with depends and people on housing assistance? Yes. Friendly amendment: Include single parent who is pregnant. Accepted. Friendly amendment to change cap from 7 to 3? Not accepted because he wants people to have the option to move up to having a whole apt. Concern that someone may be here with dependents, but if the dependent leaves their status would be uncertain. At a certain point in your life you may want to live on your own, and it might make someone choose to leave even though not it is not required. Concern: This used to be a low-income place for people of color, but the co-op is mostly occupied by white folks of means, so doesn't see a reason for someone to take a unit when there is someone else facing housing discrimination. Ryan: against the cap because if some day a member wants a unit and won't be allowed to they will see themselves as short-termers and decrease their investment in cooperation. Also, open membership problems arise if we are selecting people only on their class associations. Some people want to be here to be in a co-op, and it is not clear that the only purpose of the co-op is to provide low-income housing. Concern about this being all single occupancy units. Ryan: lots of co-ops in Austin operate fine with 20 or fewer members. We are unique in being the only apt. co-op for those who are not students. Austin has over 800 bedrooms in co-ops.There is more diversity in an apt. setting, as group homes attract one particular type of person. There was a concern last year that we were drifting toward only two-occupant units. We can look at single-occupancy units as offering diversity in terms of age. This is an issue in affordable housing in the area. It is unlikely that we will become single-occupancy units only in view of whom we attract. We should rely on people who know the housing market as we discuss this, e.g., Hannah and Daniel Miller of NASCO. We should also include ability status in this discussion of caps; it may be easier to live alone for someone with a disability. How would a cap help serve the diversity mission if someone is driven off in this situation?
Blocks: amending the cap this way alters our mission, makes it likely that the next person moving in will be someone not facing housing barriers, which is damaging to our co-op culture; the rest of the proposal is fine but removing the cap results in putting current members above partner agencies and creating a new and higher barrier to the agencies. The proposal is tabled.
1.b. On a monthly basis the membership coordinator must make a member ship report. The report should include the next 3 months worth of ending contracts and an Wait-list aging report. Wait list aging report consists of name of perspective, membership status(i.e. returning member, associate member, non-member), date they were added to the waitlist, and last date of contact with prospective.
The intent is to make more transparent the current process of accepting new members. I think this is good policy so that anyone asked about the wait list will have more information. CQ/PI: Would MemCo require extra help. A: It's already an undesirable job and this makes it less desirable. Isn't this information already available? Yes, there is a list under the membership section of the Wiki. Could the current spreadsheet be used to generate reports to the members? Probably. Would extra labor help the MemCos? Yes. Clarifying who sees the list we have now: residents and Associates. C/FA: Can we modify this to use the online version and notify residents and members with an e-mail link. Ryan: Yes, as long as it includes the aging of last contact. FA: Notify prospective members of their current status on the waiting list. FA: not accepted. Prospective members who are interested can and sometimes do contact MemCo about their status. Adding the date of last contact is the only thing needed to answer most of the points of this proposal. Do we want the prospective members' contact information included? Not part of this proposal. This item is tabled.
1.c. Population of labor doing members should not go below 25. This rule will take the place of the single occupancy cap and the “Paul cap of 0.” When the population reaches the floor the house must meet to decide an appropriate course of action. Appropriate courses of action include, but are not limited to, lowering the floor, creating more labor hours, or putting a single occupancy cap into place.
This item is tabled.
(Richard) No member acting on behalf of the house may accept a residency contract for an individual person to occupy a whole unit if doing so would reduce the number of resident-members to a quantity fewer than 33. This restriction is waived if the individual receives financial assistance via HACA, has legal dependents, or is pregnant. The rules passed on August 30, 2015 in the form of agenda items 1 and 2 are repealed.
This item is tabled.
(Nolan) Overturn Corey's 8 no-shows of me for contract coordinator labor. Nolan states that he only wants to include the facts of his labor in August in this discussion. He has signed off his labor for the last two months with the Labor Czar under new procedures they came up with; confirmed by labor hours. Corey: Neither the results nor the reporting indicated that the labor had been done when he submitted this item. CQ/POI: Did Nolan have trouble getting notifications? Yes, there was a problem getting some information. Corey: Nolan had access to one item on the Trello that he did not sign off. Nolan: subsequently this was signed off. C/FA: Corey is unaware of what he has worked on since July. Nolan: He feels Corey has been wanting him to leave for the last month, so this looks suspicious. He is trying to work with the process in good faith. Q: Is it the case that sometimes there isn't 8 hours of labor to do in a month? Nolan: He has been considering a review of the need for this as an 8 hour position; it is variable from month to month. Labor Czar: suggests Nolan not report any extra hours of labor so that this does not have to come back to the house. Proposal passed by consensus.
(Andi Y) Late fees that accrue on unpaid rent while a member is in a hospital, including a psychiatric hospital, shall be waived. Andi: This is related to prior proposal about forgiveness of labor during hospitalization. Proposal passed by consensus.
Ryan: We have savings and is working on long-term planning. Energy inspection came up with $200K estimate for full upgrade. There is an innovative new form of financing that might make this possible. He has talked to a developer about adding units and creating a custom kitchen and commercial kitchen upgrade at a cost of $250-300K. The original purchase price for the co-op was $1 million.
Donny: HIs birthday is Friday and he will have an open house at 7:30 or 8 pm; if it is large he may ask to use the Commons for overflow.
Hannah: Dinner at 7:30 Wednesday will be followed by a talk on Popular Education techniques to educate and facilitate. It will be led by staff from Cooperation Texas.
Corey: The CHEA Board meeting Tuesday will include a discussion of the single-occupancy cap here in the Commons.
Paul: There is a Co-op bike, donated by Dusanna and rehabbed by his very self; he will e-mail the lock code.
Richard: Labor Holiday is Friday-Sunday, Oct 9-11. Please sign up on Threadable or on the refrigerator.