By Ira Meister President and CEO – Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
Life and events are moving so fast it’s hard for us to keep track of all that is happening and what we experienced just a few short weeks and months ago.
As I write in the beginning of June, peaceful demonstrations are consuming our streets, the Covid-19 virus continues with more people infected and dying daily and New York starting the long journey back to a semblance of normalcy. At times it seems like yesterday when the city came to a sudden halt, and at others it feels like a lifetime. At this juncture, we have a chance to reflect and think back on how we handled the situation and what we learned from it for the next crisis.
Matthew Adam Properties manages more than 100 properties of varying sizes and types. Because each building’s character is unique, we let the properties determine their policies in handling the situation. Our job is to provide them with information, guidance, supervision and the materials to function and stay safe during the pandemic.
From the beginning we understood the importance of staying ahead of the curve and figuring out what would be needed. One of the first things we did was to establish rapport with a wide variety of national suppliers so buildings would have the necessary materials to maintain a clean and safe environment. This included having the proper cleaning supplies in sufficient quantity for the super-charged cleaning of public areas.
We acquired the materials needed to protect the residents of the buildings as well as the employees. Doormen, concierges and handymen were equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with masks, gloves and even protective suits.
In addition, we installed hand sanitizing stations throughout the buildings.
A key factor in working our way through this crisis is communications. Our asset managers are in frequent contact with boards and superintendents to find out their needs and work with them to do the best we can in these trying times.
Our boards are doing an excellent job of communicating with residents and keeping them informed about changes in building procedures and operations.
We instituted in March a weekly newsletter to residents. These notices have included general protocols for buildings and residents that follow the strictures set forth by Gov. Andrew Como and Mayor Bill de Blasio including guidance on maintaining social distancing and prohibiting non-essential guests. We also discussed practices if a person needs to be quarantined such as leaving garbage outside the apartment door and notifying staff to pick it up.
We included laundry room protocols and reminders to residents to be considerate of neighbors keeping noise levels down, maintaining social distancing and refraining from having more than two persons in an elevator.
With the mammoth increase in digital purchasing, we have advised residents as a safety precaution to let boxes with non-perishable contents sit for a couple of days in the delivery room before taking them up to their apartment followed by a thorough hand washing.
We added links to websites identifying places for take-out or delivery, entertainment sites such as Netflix Party where friends can watch and chat about a movie, streaming broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera, exercise sites as well as those providing information on cleaning cell phones and other safety measures.
One of the most popular pieces in the newsletters appeared in mid-April about face masks. We provided tips on using the masks to greatest efficacy such as washing and maintaining them. We provided instructions on making cloth masks. This included directions for sewn masks with or without a sewing machine as well as those that didn’t require sewing. The instructions were accompanied by diagrams showing how to cut and sew the material as well as a list of the materials and tools required. In essence, a recipe for making masks.
While the virus and its resultant health and safety requirements seem to be relaxing, we are still faced with many unknowns.
Whatever happens in these uncertain times, we need to be vigilant to maintain the safety procedures that have been instituted until such time as a vaccine is widely distributed or other health measures come along to provide a level of security.