>Until recently, which involves a construction boom and the ongoing construction of thousands of luxury condominiums around the City, 85% of the apartment ownership options in New York were located in cooperative (co-op) buildings. Co-ops are rare outside of NYC, and basically work like this: the building itself is a corporation. Anyone (for example, Husband and myself) who wants to "buy" an unit within the co-op really buys shares of the corporation. Those shares are determined by the location within the building (e.g. - a ground floor apartment in theory has less shares than the penthouse, as it is less desirable to live off the lobby) and size. The buyer of the shares is assigned a proprietary lease for the unit, and pays a monthly maintenance fee to cover the building's costs. The fee is determined dividing the corporation's costs by all of the shares, then multiplying the per share amount by the number of shares for each unit.

Sometimes co-ops will charge a special assessment in addition to the monthly maintenance to cover the costs of capital projects, which brings me to the point of my story. Our building has an enormous amount of deferred maintenance because people didn't have enough money in the past to shoulder the assessment. The elevators are not code compliant, and are years beyond their useful life. Other "small" issues, like fault-line size cracks in concrete also need to be fixed pronto. Hence we received a letter saying that each shareholder will receive an assessment in the upcoming months, payable over a few years, so the building can be made safe.

Here is the part of the story where I rant. Several shareholders went ballistic when they were told that they'd have to shoulder some of the costs of repairing the building they occupy. Last night, an emergency meeting was called to discuss the matter. Issues raised:

Crazy person: Refused to believe that the elevators were dangerous and asked to see the engineering report. When given the report's executive summary, he insisted that he needed to read the full 50 page report to support its conclusion that the elevators exceeded their useful life and were not code compliant.

Selfish asshole*: Stated that he bought his unit 16 years ago when the prices were much lower, and therefore should pay less than the people who bought their units for higher prices in recent years. Also loudly complained that he cannot afford to renovate his kitchen because his kid was in college, and thus did not see the need to pay to make staff areas safe.

Fucking idiot: Howled that she didn't understand why we just couldn't divide the total amount of the repairs evenly between all 120 units in the building, as it was unfair that people with larger shares (i.e. - nicer apartments that are worth more) are charged a higher proportion, which of course is the point of co-op organization.

Oh, how I hate people! (Note: I live in the fucking lobby and never use the elevator, and I am not complaining that I will be paying an extra thousand bucks a month so that the assholes upstairs can use it safely.) In the end, I refrained from killing anyone and instead volunteered to use my dormant skills from my experience working in agencies that finance the rehab of affordable housing for low-income people to help the Board with the projects. The rants will be a-flowin'.

*This guy pissed me off most. First off, he was lucky enough to get a good deal on his large apartment and when he sells it, he will undoubtedly quintuple his profit, even with a real estate crash. Does he plan on holding the price down so that another middle-income family can afford it? No? Then fuck you. Second, the reason the repairs cost so much is that they were not when ten years ago, when the need first arose, because people didn't want to pay for it. This shit does not decrease in price over time. Hence he helped create an even bigger expense by deferring, and using his own logic, should in fact pay a higher share of the cost. I'm not even going to go into how absurd it is that he publicly stated that the building employees deserve to deal with shitty conditions because his poor family can't have a fancy new kitchen. What a fucking asshole.

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