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Many Reston Apartment Dwellers Feel Left Out

Study by George Mason University looked at Reston apartment dwellers' community involvement.

A recent study by the The Center for Social Science Research at George Mason University found that Reston apartment dwellers feel somewhat disconnected when it comes to being part of the larger Reston Association.

The study interviewed residents at seven Reston apartment complexes and found that 64 percent of them did not know they were Reston Association members, even though a large number of them had participated in RA-sponsored activities or spent time at an RA recreational facility.

Reston Association is one of the largest community associations in the country. It considers renters full members of the association, encouraging them to participate in the association’s advisory committees, social and recreational activities, and Board of Directors.

Other key report findings:

* There are numerous opportunities for apartment residents to participate in social, educational, recreational and civic activities as part of their Reston Association membership as well as in most apartment complexes that participated in this study.  

* Many apartment residents are involved in activities in their apartment complex (47.6 percent) and in the broader Reston community (75.7 percent). Fewer residents report participating in Reston Association civic activities. For example, about 12 percent of the apartment residents interviewed had voted in a Reston Association election.

Many residents said that they were not actively participating in RA meetings or events, that they were unaware of the benefits of being an RA member, or that they assumed that they were not members because they had not personally paid to join the association.   

* Many residents said their English skills led to a lack of understanding about community options and affected their desire to participate.

Amanda Andere, RA's apartment owners representative, says the survey gives RA a good glimpse into the needs of residents.

"The diversity of Reston Association is shown through its membership," she said. "Unique to many community associations, our members include residents of apartments. I represent the owners/property managers of those apartments, but felt it was important to engage the residents to see how we could better service this great asset to RA.

"I'm excited about the process we used and the results," she said. "The process allowed us to truly engage residents in a conversation,and I hope we can use this method in other surveys of our members. The results show residents of the apartments are accessing services and amenities provided by RA, but there are more opportunities to engage, partner, and communicate to make sure residents are aware and accessing all of the benefits RA membership has to offer."

For look at more details, the complete report and recommended strategies for RA to engage members, click here.

Click here to read the presentation to the RA Board, Engaging Apartment Residents in Community Associations: A Study in Reston, Va.

Amanda Andere November 01, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Thanks for covering such an important outreach effort by RA. At the presentation to the board the researchers presented a more positive outlook. 75% of apartment residents had participated in a social or recreational activity in Reston. 72% used Reston Magazine (published by RA) to find out about ways to get involved. What we discussed at the board meeting is like many members they may not always connect the events they participate in with Reston Association. We know we have work to do to better engage the apartment residents and plan to partner with apartment complexes in that effort.

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