Work with your neighbors to stop the spread of the virus

Now is the time to practice community through cooperation and keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. Read on to learn how to talk to your neighbors about Coronavirus, request aid, and keep your building healthy. 

UPDATE: Co-ops are eligible for the third round of Paycheck Protection Program loans! We expect this program to open sometime in January. You can use this loan to cover the cost of payroll for employees. Stay tuned for updates!

We want to hear from you! What have you been doing to deal with COVID-19 in your HDFC? Email us or call us at 212 479 3337, and check out our COVID-19 reports to see what other HDFCs have been doing.

  • Practice good hygiene and social distancing. Although case rates have gone down, there is still no vaccine and no cure. Take the precautions available to you, and think about how to manage risks in your personal life and in your building.
  • Work with residents to assess maintenance fees. This is a time of great financial uncertainty for many New Yorkers. Here’s our advice for dealing with maintenance fees in the coming months:
    • All residents in HDFCs who can pay their maintenance fees and rent absolutely should. Calls for rent strikes typically target big-time landlords who can afford to absorb a loss of income. Most HDFCs run with tight margins and cannot afford to keep the lights on without maintenance fees.
    • Make decisions on a case-by-case basis. A blanket maintenance fee deferment will cause more financial disruption to the HDFC than individual exceptions. You can ask for proof of employment and proof that shareholders were laid off or furloughed as a result of the crisis; however, gig economy workers like babysitters or those who were forced to leave their jobs because of health risks may not be able to provide this documentation.
    • The board makes the decision, not the management company. You are in control of whatever policy you set during this time. Decide what’s right for your residents and your HDFC, and make sure to inform your management company about any policy changes you may enact.
    • Consider a waiver, abatement, or forbearance. Many HDFCs have some level of reserves and can offer relief to those that can’t afford maintenance fees. Here are some ways to give relief:
      • Waiver: Waiving maintenance fees mean it doesn’t have to be paid back at all. Waivers can be partial or total.
      • Abatement: Abatements mean the shareholder is only responsible for part of the maintenance fee. It’s basically the same as a partial waiver.
      • Forbearance: Forbearances means the shareholder doesn’t pay maintenance fees for a set amount of time, and then resumes payment and enters into a payment plan to pay arrears.
  • Stay connected. Building residents may want to minimize face-to-face contact. Be sure you have a way to communicate. Does the board have contact information for everyone in the building? Do you want to set up a group chat? Does everyone use email, or is it best to call? 
  • Reach out to neighbors. Check in with every apartment to determine their risk level, and see if they’re likely to need support in the coming weeks. Here are some questions you can ask if you don’t already know:
    • Are you elderly, immunocompromised, or otherwise high-risk?
    • Are you working from home, or leaving the building every day?
    • Have you been practicing social distancing?
    • Do you need, or do you think you will need, help with any of the following?
      • Getting groceries
      • Creating a safety plan
      • Childcare
      • Companionship 
      • Information about COVID-19
      • Transportation
    • Could you volunteer to help neighbors with any of these things, if needed? ​
  • Request help from your community. There are mutual aid efforts across the city to connect young, healthy volunteers with people who need help during the Coronavirus crisis. is a great place to start. Volunteers can drop off (and potentially help pay for) groceries, over-the-counter-medicine, and other goods. They can also offer things like over-the-phone counseling, assistance navigating public benefits applications, and more. To request help over the phone, contact a UHAB staff member at (212) 479-3337. 
  • Practice mutual aid. Look out for your neighbors, especially if they are vulnerable to Coronavirus; this includes elderly residents, and those with compromised immune systems. Check in to make sure they have all the groceries and supplies they need. Elderly and at-risk building residents should stay away from crowded areas when possible. If a young, healthy person can go get them groceries or pick up a prescription, it keeps the at-risk person safe at home. 
  • Assign roles and responsibilities. Community care is a big job; split up roles to keep it more manageable! Here are two ideas for roles:
    • Sanitizer: Coordinates with Super to keep common areas sanitized. If the Super only comes every few days, the sanitizer can wipe down “touch points,” or frequently touched areas in the building, once a day with sanitary wipes. These include doorknobs, elevator buttons, mailboxes, and banisters. Click here for recommendations on how to clean, and what products to use in your household. Click here for recommendations from the City specifically for building operators.
    • Phone tree operator: This person keeps their building, and possibly neighboring buildings, informed about the latest Coronavirus updates through a phone tree. Here’s a guide to creating a phone tree in your building. Check the City’s website and news sources frequently, and make sure everyone is up to date on the latest safety precautions. 
    • Mutual aid request point person: Checks up on and manages requests from at-risk residents. Residents who have been cooped up at home may need help getting groceries or medication; they may also want to talk on the phone, or to borrow a good book. Follow up with building residents to make sure their needs are being met. Be sure to check out for a list of helpful resources your neighbors may need.
    • Mutual aid volunteer point person: This person connects building residents who need aid with volunteers from the building or the neighborhood. You can delegate willing neighbors to assist neighbors using a group chat, or for more tech-savvy buildings, you can create a spreadsheet.
      • You don’t have to do it all yourself! Check out to connect to a neighborhood network of volunteers, or reach out to UHAB at 212 479 3337. 

We’re working remotely, but we’re still working for you! Our services and programs are running, and our staff is available by phone and email.