Chapters are an association of RAP houses which meet monthly to offer support to each other.
The purposes of the chapter are:
- To provide support to individual houses,
- To share experiences among houses about what works and what doesn't,
- To create a sense of community,
- To help train new members in the houses on on-going house operations.
RAP houses are about building community. RAP starts by building community within a house. Then it builds community among houses. It uses the chapter to do this. Houses within a chapter share experience, strength and hope. They support the houses in their efforts to stay healthy.
All officers serve for 6 months. If an elected officer leaves a house involuntarily, they must resign from their office. If they leave voluntarily, they may choose to serve out their term.
The Chair is the executive officer. It is her responsibility to see that meetings are held monthly. She runs the meeting according to accepted Parliamentary Procedures.
The Vice Chair helps the President and conducts meetings if the President is not available.
The Treasurer collects dues from the houses and deposits them in the Chapter Checking Account. They also are responsible for writing any checks that are due for Chapter expenses and for balancing the bank account.
The Secretary takes notes at the meeting using the standard form.
Housing Services Representative is in charge of house maintenance and new member intake procedures.
Meetings are held monthly and usually rotated among the houses.
The Chair opens the meeting. The Secretary then reads the minutes of the last meeting. The Treasurer reports on the balance in the Chapter's checking account and the dues paid by the individual houses.
The each member house reports on:
The house financial condition, and
The number of vacancies in the house.
This should not take very long. Then the Housing Services Committee reports on special problems in the houses. The Housing Services Committee Chair may pick a topic which is a house issue for all the houses to discuss.
Chapter funds are to be used to cover chapter expenses. It is hoped that the chapter will build up significant funds to be able to support houses with loans, in case of house emergencies.
The Housing Services Committee
The Chapter Housing Services Committee
is made up of house members who are willing to spend time working with other houses to provide on-going training and support houses in trouble. The Chair of the Housing Services Committee has the responsibility to track vacancies within the houses and report on a weekly basis to RAP staff.
The most important chapter function is to provide on-going training on house operations. This is not big, formal training, but one-on-one training.
For example, a house has a new Comptroller. The Comptroller position is vital to the financial health of the house. A Housing Services Committee member with training and experience can visit the house with the new Comptroller and sit down with that person and go over the job responsibilities, review the forms and make sure the new Comptroller understands the demands of their new position. The goal here is to set up a system of peer interactions.
Helping Houses in Trouble
Sometimes houses find themselves in difficulty. This may be financial difficulty due to vacancies or personality problems within a house. If the house cannot resolve these problems on their own, then they can ask the members of the Housing Services Committee for help. The Housing Service Committee can volunteer help to a house if there are signs of trouble. Signs of trouble can be: unfilled vacancies, late rent payment or rumors in the community. The committee should follow a three step process for helping:
- The problem is assessed and possible solutions are evaluated for suggesting to the house. It is important to remember that houses are autonomous and so the committee can only "suggest."
- Then the committee should meet with the house leaders and discuss the problem, and
- Finally, the committee should arrange to attend a house meeting to discuss the problem and solution with the house members.
The house in trouble should develop and implement a plan of action to solve the difficulty facing the house.
As a solution of last resort, the chapter can authorize a loan to a house from chapter funds. If a loan is suggested, it must be approved by a majority of the houses in the chapter and a contract executed between the chapter and the house. It should be signed by two officers of the house and include a schedule for repayment of the loans to the Chapter.