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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Trishia Bermudez

Water’s Edge at Arverne
109 Beach 60th St.
Rockaway, Queens

Trishia Bermudez has always had a head for numbers. After emigrating to the United States from Belize as a teenager, she studied business accounting at Fordham University and earned a master’s degree in business at Molloy College on Long Island. Currently a senior accountant at B&T Accounting Services in Brooklyn, Bermudez moved into the Water’s Edge at Arverne, a 130-unit condominium made up of 65 two-story buildings on the Rockaway peninsula, in 2011. In addition to her duties as treasurer of the five-member board at Water’s Edge, a city-sponsored affordable housing development, she devotes much of her time to Perfect Piece of the Puzzle, a nonprofit that assists families with special-needs children, where she is CEO.

HABITAT: Can you tell us about your history at the co-op?
BERMUDEZ: I actually ended up here because of a breakup. I had been engaged to someone, but it didn’t work out. I was living with my mother in Brooklyn and wanted a fresh start, so I went on the website to look at housing lotteries and found Water’s Edge. The two-bedroom apartments were perfect, and with the subsidy, tax abatement and affordable common charges, it was a steal. I put my hat in, figuring my chances weren’t good. But here I am.

HABITAT: How did you come to be treasurer? The condo board’s president tells us they courted you because you’re a “financial wizard.”
BERMUDEZ: I was definitely wooed. I was a part of a community organization, Friends of the Beach, to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood and had grown close with some of the condo’s board members who were part of the group. Also, after being here for seven years, people knew that I did accounting for a living. And I had worked as a bookkeeper at a property management firm, WayFinder, so I had firsthand experience delivering monthly reports to buildings. It took me a while to say yes, because it’s a responsibility you have to be fully committed to.

HABITAT: Being an affordable housing condo, are there any wrinkles to your duties as treasurer?
BERMUDEZ: It’s run just like any other condo or co-op. I go through the ledgers to make sure everyone is current with their common charges and review the monthly reports from our management company, Impact, looking at the bills that have been paid and making sure we have all the statements and receipts we should have. Also, with so much fraud happening now, you want to make sure that outside of our management company, no one is tapping into our bank account and taking out money.

HABITAT: How does it compare to your day job?
BERMUDEZ: It’s a lot easier than my day-to-day work, because I’m not actually entering information – which sometimes gets tedious – but reviewing and rectifying problems and then discussing it with the rest of the board to make sure that they’re aware of them and understand what they’re looking at. I like being able to look at the numbers and tell the board whether they look clean or need a little tweaking.

HABITAT: Have there been any recent projects that required your keen eye – or any that are now in the works?
BERMUDEZ: We recently replaced all the gutters that wrap around the buildings. Moving forward, we’re looking into solar panels on the roofs. I haven’t personally been up on the roof, but my understanding is that they’re a little bit different in terms of how to install solar paneling. Also, because each building has a separate apartment on each floor, we need to understand how that would work between the owners in terms of costs. We also want to replace the outdoor lighting fixtures, not just to make them more energy efficient but more durable and sustainable, especially because we’re on the water. And we’re changing out the dryer vents in each unit because a lot of people are having issues with birds getting into them.

HABITAT: Are there any other challenges on the horizon?
BERMUDEZ: Yes. We’re stepping into the second phase of our 20-year property-tax abatement. At Year 11, taxes will start to phase in gradually, and there will also be stipulations regarding leasing. When we hit Year 21, we’ll be paying property taxes in full. While that doesn’t directly affect the board, it will definitely be a new dynamic for the complex and will impact unit-owners. We want to do what we can to preemptively manage it.

HABITAT: How long do you plan to continue to serve on the board?
BERMUDEZ: I tell myself all the time that I’m not going to do it that much longer because I really want to focus more of my time on my nonprofit. But then I think about the life cycle of boards and how people can get burned out if they do it for too long. Boards constantly need fresh eyes and ears, and I’d like to help keep that freshness continuing. Also, it’s just in my nature that I like to know how things work, and there’s no better way to understand something than to be hands-on. Everyone keeps telling me that the only way I can get off the board is if I move – and they know that’s not happening. I love my nice little place by the beach.

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