New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Taking Charge: Judy DeVito

You could call Judy DeVito a director emeritus. The former board president at the Brulene, a 96-unit co-op in Jackson Heights, Queens, stepped down from active duty a year ago, but she continues to serve as an adviser to the current directors. A retired paralegal and executive assistant, DeVito spoke with Habitat about how, despite all the challenges, she misses her old job.



Close to home. I grew up just two blocks from the Brulene on 92nd Street, and aside from two years living on Long Island after I got married, I’ve always lived in Jackson Heights. I had friends who lived at the Brulene and it seemed like a very nice community, so we moved there in 1995. I joined the board in 2008, after I complained to the president about a parking garage issue. One of his neighbors had died and he had worked out a deal with the widow to pay her bill if she would let him use her parking space. There was a waiting list for the garage, so he was taking the spot from people in line who deserved it. He stopped using the spot and told me there was an opening on the board and that I should join since I had so much to say. That’s exactly what I did.


Getting down to business. The board was just about to start replacing all the windows in our two buildings and I became heavily involved in the project, meeting with engineers, interviewing contractors and things like that. It cost $600,000, and we took out a loan and imposed assessments to pay for it. I found that the more I was involved in board work, the more interested I became. I ran for president and was elected in 2011, when we were undertaking a $700,000 facade repair project. By that time, the loan was almost paid for, so we took out a new loan from Flushing Bank and started a new 10-year assessment. 


Money on hand. Our reserves are solid. We have a policy to keep at least three months’ worth of maintenance payments in the reserves, and right now there’s more than that because we had a banner year in apartment sales. The flip tax is $60 per share or 3% of the sales price, whichever is greater, so that brought in a lot of cash. As for maintenance, we’ve kept increases to 2% or 3%, but because of rising costs we had to raise it by 9% in 2022. The good news is that the next increase is only 3%, and people will once again get to keep the property tax abatement.


In good repair. We pay very careful attention to structural issues. Problems like leaks, or anything that’s not working well, we take care of immediately. As for energy efficiency, we got an A letter grade. We replaced our oil burners and are now using gas and electricity, and we’re not looking at any Local Law 97 fines in 2025. Still, we’re considering installing solar panels. As for the city’s elevator upgrade mandate, that’s going to be an expensive project if we go beyond just installing emergency brakes, which will cost around $90,000, and replace our two elevator cabs, which would be a $400,000 project. But we figure it might make more sense to do both at once.


Still on call. I stepped back from being president in April 2022. It’s best for the building because I do think you have to change with the times, and younger board members are more inclined to change and can bring their professional skills to the job. They pick my brain all the time. I’ve taken people through the resale process from beginning to end. I often get calls from new members, and sometimes even the new president, when they get bills from vendors they’re not familiar with and don’t know what they’re for. Being on the board all those years, you can give that kind of information right off the top of your head.


The good and the bad. I miss being on the board every day, absolutely. I’m used to being the go-to person, and I didn’t realize I was going to miss it as much as I do, even though the president is always held responsible whenever there’s a problem or shareholders are unhappy with a board decision. No matter how hard you work or how many hours you put in, you will never make everyone happy, and you can’t take it personally. The biggest lesson I learned is to lean more on others. Access the talent of all your fellow board members and use it. As they say, it really does take a village.

Subscriber Login

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?