Are You Sinking or Swimming? National Housing Initiatives

CSL Management shares insights into the housing trends fraternal organizations face with the National Housing Corporation (NHC).
Are You Sinking or Swimming? Trends in National Housing Initiatives

Guest Author: Woody Ratterman, Chief Operating Officer, CSL Management

In February, sorority and women’s fraternity leaders gathered just north of Indy for the 2016 installment of MJ Insurance’s Housing Forum. On the final day of the forum, we had the privilege of sharing our research on national housing initiatives.

The objective was to provide those in attendance with additional insight into trends at the national/international level, why others in the Fraternity/Sorority community are moving in a certain direction, the various organizational structures and objectives of national housing corporations (NHC), and the challenges and strategies associated with the development and implementation of an NHC.

The following is a snapshot of the major points and statistics shared with those in attendance that day. We encourage you to review and consider the data below and allow the lessons learned by others to inform your decision making process going forward.

Why are organizations considering or moving to an NHC?

  1. Lack of volunteers/time
  2. Expansion/Growth
  3. Increased Complexity of houses/operations
  4. Asset preservation
  5. Capital
  6. Competition
  7. Changing expectations

What Does Everyone Else Do?

  • 58% or 15 NPC organizations have some type of NHC
  • All but one require participation in their NHC moving forward
  • Approximately 30% of all chapter houses are
    under a NHC
  • 69% or 18 NPC organizations have housing staff
  • Organizations with an NHC average five employees
  • Organizations without an NHC average three employees
  • Just over 20% of NIC groups actually employ someone at the staff level to address housing
  • Estimated less than 15% of NIC organizations have any type of national housing entity that holds title to chapter facilities

NPC Specific Results:

  • NHC’s on average own 54% of their chapter houses
  • 46% of NHC chapter houses are leased/university owned
  • 33% of chapters within NHCs are suite/dorm,
    floor/no space
  • 53% of NHC boards use a governance model
  • 47% of NHC boards are operational
  • 60% of NHC’s outsource their property management

How/Why did sister organizations get started on the creation of an NHC? How did they fund?

  • Had no choice, had to act
  • Conscience decision
  • Transferred assets
  • Acquired
  • Funding sources
  • Gifting of asset
  • Debt
  • Cash
  • Fundraising
  • Service fees
  • Member fees
  • Investors

What kind of support do most NHCs provide?

  • National resource
  • Insurance
  • Accounting, bookkeeping, financial services
  • Contract administration
  • HR support
  • Property management
  • Project support
  • Education/Training
  • Legal

How do organizations fund their NHC staff and resources?

  • Fee for service
  • Lease payments (from chapter)
  • Room, board, and out-of-house fees (from members)
  • One-time new member fees

What cost factors do we need to consider when organizing our NHC?

  • Staffing (headquarter and/or facility)
  • Operational expenses (headquarter and facility)
  • Capital expenditures
  • Professional services

What do stakeholders really need and want?

  • Capital/money
  • Operational support
  • Professional help/subject matter expertise
  • Control
  • Input
  • Included


What should I be mindful of going forward?

  • Poor performing assets
  • Emotional ties
  • How time informs the process
  • Opportunity costs, especially in terms of capital
  • Conspiracy theorists
  • Numbers rarely lie


What are the keys to successfully developing and implementing an NHC?

  • Communicating/Connecting with your stakeholders
  • Transparency
  • Collaboration among all stakeholders
  • Managing expectations
  • Understand costs/risks
  • Consistency
  • Accountability in the process
  • Celebrate, promote, brand

With so many organizations realizing the incredible need to improve the support we provide in terms of the residential experience, we certainly anticipate these trends to continue their upward movement. If your organization is just embarking on this journey or if you’re course correcting, please know you’re not in this alone. Reach out to others in the community for support. With so many moving down this path, there are an enormous amount of lessons learned, both good and bad, removing the need to fully reinvent the wheel. So please, use the resources and expertise available to you from others sitting in a similar chair or reach out to one of us here at CSL and we’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

For more information and explanation please check out the webinar presentation of this data at the following link: View our presentation on VIMEO.