Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The special "Jeopardy" issue of my housing co-op newsletter

In the last few months, I've been coming up with a lot of answers regarding why things are falling apart here at my housing co-op -- but nobody seems to be asking me the right questions. I sometimes feel like I am Alex Treback. But then if I actually WAS Alex Trebeck, then I'd be the host of "Jeopardy," and would finally be able to supply some of the right answers -- and people would be coming up with the right questions too.

Here's how my show would go:

"Savo Island," would be the first answer, and then some contestant would ring the buzzer and yell, "What is the name of the HUD-sponsored housing co-op where you live?"

"That is correct."

Then I'd read off the next answer. "We don't have one because it got canceled."

Contestants would then wave their hands in the air and shout, "The question here is, 'What happened to Savo Island's property and mortgage insurance policy?'" Right again. Our insurance got canceled last month, probably because our roofs were leaking, our siding was falling off and, because we couldn't afford to pay our gardeners, the area was a dry and weedy fire hazard. Do you know what it's like to be without insurance? It's scary. But luckily our management company searched around and found us another insurance company to sign up with. Whew.

Next answer. "We don't have one because it got canceled."

That answer sounded familiar, but I slogged on. "Is the question, 'What happened to our re-hab loan?'" Right again! These contestants are on a roll. After approximately eight years of having our re-hab stalled off by our board of directors, the bank we had contracted with just got tired of waiting around for them to get on with it. Our re-hab plans have been on hold longer than the war on Iraq.

Then I would pause, adjust my tie and ask the next answer. "We don't have one because it got canceled."

And the contestants would know the question to ask about that one too! "What happened to our management company's contract?"

My next answer: "Because Savo's board of directors let the management company's contract lapse without arranging to have a new contract in place."

The question? "Why did the management company's contract lapse, when the board was totally aware that HUD requires a management company for the property?" But by now the contestants would be all excited and came up with a question even before I could give them any answers. "If your housing co-op has no re-hab loan, no property or mortgage insurance and no management company now, how are they going to survive?

I have NO answer to that one.

But just as the show was starting to wind down and the contestants were getting ready to pack it up, I came up with just one more answer. "He forgot."

And the right question to that one is, "Why did the board president let the management contract lapse?" Then, as the show was finally ending, one last contestant buzzed in with a question that I thought was particularly good: "Does this board of directors have a death wish for the co-op?"

I had no answer for that either.

PS: Here's an update: Our management company just scrambled around and found us some new property insurance. Whew! We missed a bullet on that one. And two lenders have offered to re-finance our re-hab. Another bullet missed. And the board president managed to get our management contract signed six hours before it was due to expire, thus dodging a third bullet.

But now I think that Savo Island is about to have to dodge a whole cannon ball! Our entire board of directors was just summoned to appear before HUD on July 28, 2009. "What is THAT meeting going to be about?" is the next question. And I have no answer for that one at all -- but it really doesn't sound very hopeful. I don't think there are going to be any big prizes involved.