Housing consumers have been told that in an HOA they would enjoy greater control over their environment, they would have full and complete access to all the books and records of the association, their property values would be enhanced and protected and all this while providing them the luxury of carefree living. Hmm? My mother always told me that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In this case she was right. As far as I can make out the entire HOA housing concept is built on a mountain of lies and more lies and these lies are starting to fall like a house of cards.
Scott Wircenske joins us On The Commons. Scott is a homeowner in Parkhill Manor association located in Olathe, Kansas. His battle is not new and like many people embroiled in HOA issues and problems, he has learned more about associations than he ever wanted to know. So many problems and issues keep coming up again and again in cities, towns and municipalities in state after state across the country. Same problems, same issues, same MO, just the names of the people are different. Many of these problems can be filed under the heading of mismanaged funds or lack of transparency or both. In Scott’s story both of these issues take center stage. Usually when ANY (and I use the term loosely) governing body is reluctant to act in the open and insists on hiding under cover of darkness, there is a reason for it. Scott kept asking the embarrassing questions, information he was entitled to but instead of answers he kept getting vilified by the members of his HOA. You see, they were following the official HOA script. You’ll recognize them when you listen to Scott. Not one to back away, Scott odyssey has been going on for several years, and still continues. His story and experiences should serve as a warning to housing consumers looking for a house in an HOA.
Over the years much has been written about controlled housing in America. There have been scholarly books, legal books and Law Review articles, regular newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, websites dedicated to exploring HOAs, personal accounts of life in an HOA, satire, lots and lots of horror stories, There have even been “how to” live in an HOA, articles trying to convince you that “you agreed” to the rules and abuses and if you don’t like it, move. There have even been books and rosy accounts of all the joys of HOA living but never has there ever been a book quite like HOA: Crisis in America.
Quite apart from the fact that the book is the most creative, innovative and fun way to read, watch and hear a book, it is the first time that anyone has ever brought science into the HOA discussion. And there is one more unique thing about HOA:Crisis in America, it is FREE. I am very excited about the book and so greatly honored that Dr. Gary Solomon is launching his book through On The Commons. This book takes the discussion and the research to a whole new level. It gives us all the tools to get beyond the legal twists and turns, the emotional discussion, the misrepresentations of what HOAS are and are not, the fear associated with this form of housing and leaves us having to ask – and answer – the question of whether this is a viable form of housing and whether or not it can be reformed and made into a kinder gentler monster.
Dr. Gary Solomon joins us On The Commons this week to introduce his new book, HOA: Crisis in America. Dr. Solomon is a Psychologist, a retired professor of psychology in Nevada who noticed something a little strange in his new development and when neighbors asked him if he was having problems with the HOA, he put two and two together and started studying the effects of HOAs on humans. What he discovered was quite alarming which led to two papers, The HOA Syndrome and Elder Abuse. He studied the psychology behind giving people unfettered power and described the type of personality that gravitates to these positions. The most exciting part of this book is the science behind the physical affects on the residents in HOAs. The physiological changes to our bodies is explained in very clear, easy to understand language that even our legislators should be able to grasp.
To say that the sanctity of house and home have been invaded and violated by the proliferation of mandatory membership residential associations, is an understatement. The stories, the horrors and the problems across the country are mind boggling. I believe if you ask 100 people who have been targeted by their HOA to explain the problem with this living concept you’d get several hundred different answers. But I think if you ask some industry members, they’ll have a rather glib explanation: “The 3 P’s – parking, pets and people”. I don’t think that even begins to scratch the surface.
Julio Robaina and Jose Pezos join us On The Commons. Julio, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives a nd once Mayor of South Miami was introduced to the issues in HOAs when he traveled the state as a representative talking to people. Jose, a former Marine Sergeant and combat veteran as well as a board certified Community Association manager have teamed up and own a management company in Miami called PRZMiami . When I first met Julio he was a Representative who went out and met homeowners across Florida and listened to their testimonies. At the time he promised me that he would spend the rest of his life helping homeowners. He has kept that promise. The two of them make quite a team. One of the many problems with HOAs is the lack of transparency, this game of hide and seek where the association refuses to make the members aware of what is going on but expect them to fund their follies. To solve this particular problem, Jose has created an APP that will be available nationwide, yes, it could be coming to your HOA as well. We talk to Julio and Jose about Q2, their app, find out how it works and what problems it will solve. Now on to the next lot of HOA related issues and problems.
Sometimes it is good to step back and take a look at the big picture and try to understand where things fit in. I have always felt that residential associations have crossed the line. When it is permissible for others to spy on their neighbors to ensure they are acting and behaving according to OUR rules and regulations, acting according to OUR dictates, we have lost respect for privacy and individuality. And when civility, due process, dealing with facts rather than emotions and bullying take center stage, we, as a nation, lose and we lose big time!
Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons . In a departure from our usual HOA issues, we look at how the country as a whole and especially how our elected leaders in Washington are acting and behaving. With impeachment being the topic “du jour”, we take a deep dive into the mechanics of manipulation. By sidestepping the fundamentals of the laws Congress is pushing its own agenda forward. Is it OK to undo an election simply because they are angry? Why is one vote worth more than another vote? Since when has this type of behavior been acceptable in a supposedly democratic civilized society? What is causing people to act and behave in such a manner? While our focus this week is more on Washington and the nation, the similarities between private and public governments are startling.