I always believed that the government’s job was to protect its citizens. But, just like HOAs protecting property values, that too appears to be a misconception. Maybe the government’s real goal always was self aggrandizement and self enrichment hidden under layers of feigned caring. Perhaps I am only now beginning to realize that or maybe the corruption and gross government misconduct has reached new heights that it is no longer possible to sweep their misdeeds under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. Or has their callousness reached new heights? Surely, when presented with evidence that their constituents are being physically harmed, they would at least listen and take steps to ensure their safety.
Michelle Germano joins us On The Commons. Michelle is the lead plaintiff in the Chinese drywall class action lawsuit. Michelle bought her dream home – a brand new townhouse in a brand new development where she planned to live and work. It wasn’t long after she moved in that things started going terribly wrong. Appliances stopped working, electrical wires disintegrated, her house had a horrible odor that she couldn’t get rid of, her dog got sick and she got sick. She found out that her neighbors were also getting sick. Following a lot of sleuthing, she discovered the source of her ailments – Chinese drywall. She tried to enlist the help of her representatives, both at the state and the Federal levels. No one was interested! After repeated attempts to get Virginia legislators involved she received a call advising her to give up because the “condo lobby” (read CAI) owned condo legislation. Nobody in DC even bothered to respond. In a no holds barred, frank, detailed and emotional interview, Michelle takes us on a roller coaster ride of her life with Chines drywall, her condo association and the legislators elected to represent us.
Elder abuse is alive and well in America, either Miss Manners didn’t do a good enough job teaching us the finer skills of manners and respect or we are ignoring them believing they are old-fashioned and therefore best forgotten. But I simply can’t forget or overlook today’s story. I was so infuriated and outraged when I got a call from a friend who lives in a retirement community. It is hard to find much that differs from a homeowners association that we typically deal with here except that they seem to be more expensive and more intrusive and as I discovered more abusive. I know, it is difficult to believe.
AS I listened to my friend, I had images of a college dorm room, not an apartment where one can enjoy the privacy of a personal home, which is what these places are supposed to be. Oh, did I mention they are NOT cheap? I got a call from my friend, very upset because she had been given about three weeks to find another home, she was being evicted. Why was she being evicted? It seems harsh to have an employee decide to strip you of your home with no oversight, no insuring that her Constitutional rights were protected, none of that. There was an incident where a member of the staff showed up and without my friend’s permission stuck a cell phone in her face and started taking pictures of her because her mask was not on her face according to the home’s standards. Considering she had a glass of water in her hand that she was drinking that is not surprising. When this woman with her cell phone appeared in her private space, taking photos and videos, my friend did what any one of us would do when someone invades our private space, we pushed them away. Not sure any reader would just stand there and smile for the camera and allow this to happen to them, at least I certainly hope not. An unintended consequence of all this was that the water in the glass gave our sneaky photographer a shower. Of course, the “bad guy” in all of this has to be my friend, and absolutely no mention is ever made of the employee who started this whole thing. I wonder why? What really, really infuriated me was when the ED told my friend to go to her room and stay there. She was not allowed to go in the common areas, or to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she had to stay in her room until she left in 3 weeks’ time. Her meals would be sent to her. That is a total violation of her Constitutional rights and is elder abuse. And this woman is in charge of a retirement home?
Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons. Caroline had the same gut reaction to this story as I did when I told her. Although Caroline is a non-practicing attorney she has a law degree, she remembers the Constitutional protections very well and reaffirms my beliefs and Gut reactions. Tune in and make sure your loved ones don’t fall into the same house of horrors.
Why do some HOA horror stories grab the headlines, go viral, get written up in news outlets around the world, discussed on radio shows and highlighted on local and national TV shows while others, equally horrible, get ignored? We never seem to learn as the stories repeat themselves, over and over and over again. Flag flaps, children play equipment in private backyards that seem to irk some of the less tolerant in the ‘hood, non conforming trashcans, unapproved garden hoses, bird feeders, discrimination, discrimination and more discrimination against anyone who does not conform to some secret acceptable standard. There are hundreds of these stories every single day yet we only ever hear about a tiny handful of them. Why?
Ward Lucas joins us On The Commons this week. Ward is an award winning print, TV and radio journalist who, over his career have covered stories of war while fighting a war to protect his property in a homeowners association. His experience and expertise were put to great use when he wrote Neighbors at War, the Creepy case Against your Homeowners Association. The term ” Neighbors at War” has caught on and is used often in HOA stories. Ward also maintains a blog by the same name. All his posts give an estimated reading time. We’ll find out why. We’ll also ask him how to capture the attention of the mainstream media and what we, as homeowners with all sorts of different backgrounds, can do to become more effective communicators. I always have fun talking to Ward so tune in and join in the fun. Oh, and as an added bonus, we’ll hear all about his latest book, due out soon.
We have all heard horror stories coming out of mandatory membership housing associations. Anything from citations for totally idiotic issues like having dust on the roof — what idiot would think of something like that? But believe it or not, that is an actual “violation.” Of course, the worst ones are when the association fines a member for insane alleged violations and eventually forecloses to take a member’s home away from them. Who will ever forget Wenonah Blevins? Wenonah, the 80-year old widow who, along with her cat, was evicted out of her mortgage-free house and left homeless. The stories are real–they shock and horrify us and grab headlines across the world. “Does that happen in America? I thought you were supposed to be a civilized nation?” Again, an actual conversation I had overseas. But there is a lot more to this. How does this affect us physically, and how about our health?.
Dr. Gary Solomon, a retired psychology professor, joins us On The Commons. Dr. Solomon has studied the effects HOAs have on the homeowners subjected to them and wrote some incredible books and articles about the emotional and physical impact HOA abuses and horrors can have. To better understand what is happening to us, read HOA Syndromeand HOA Crisis. In the meantime, please tune in and listen to him.