By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Although it’s a Presidential election year, several states and the US Congress are in the process of considering new or amended legislation that would affect Association-Governed Housing. At the same time, federal agencies such as HUD are considering new rules for FHA financing of condominiums. Local government planning boards will also consider development proposals.
For decades, however, stakeholders in the real estate industry have been promoting more and more common interest development, local governments have been requiring that these new communities establish a mandatory HOA to fund necessary maintenance and essential services, and trade group Community Associations Institute (CAI) has been lobbying against common sense consumer protection legislation that will enforce the law and regulate Association-Governed Communities.
Over the years, homeowners and residents of various types of HOAs (including condominium and cooperative associations as well as planned communities) have attended study groups, workshops, and hearings where they testified regarding the need for reform. More often than not, well-funded industry lobbyists have managed to convince our elected and appointed political leaders that, as experts in law, real estate investment, and development, they certainly know what’s good for the millions of homeowners and residents.
That, dear readers, smacks of elitism.
Nobody understands the day-to-day realities of Association-Governed Housing as well as the people who have actually lived in one of these communities: ordinary working and retired people whose net worth is tied up in their home; seasonal residents who find themselves at odds with investors who are interested in reaping profits from short-term rentals; condo tenants that struggle to make a living while creating income for absentee landlords.
Why aren’t policymakers listening to all of their constituents, not just special interests? Some say “follow the money.”
But that’s not what public service is supposed to be about!
In an effort to shine light on the true motives of special interests, as well as our elected and appointed officials, here is a list of 10 pointed questions each and every opponent of community housing policy reform must answer. I suggest that HOA homeowners and residents, concerned citizens, and media reporters ask these questions at every public meeting or hearing – from planning commissions to legislative committees – and demand straight answers.
1. Have you ever actually lived in an HOA, condo, or cooperative? OR…
2. Do you own property in an HOA or condo, or shares in a cooperative, merely as an investment or vacation property?
3. Do you or does your family own, operate, manage, invest in, or work for a business in the real estate sector?
4. Do you or does your family own large parcels of land ripe for development?
5. What is the quantifiable economic benefit to taxpayers, constituents of new HOA, condo development?
6. How much tax revenue has been generated by homeowners, condo, and cooperative associations in the past fiscal year / past 3 fiscal years?
7. How much tax revenue has been allocated to services for constituents who own or reside in homeowners, condo, and cooperative associations in the past fiscal year / past 3 fiscal years?
8. How much tax revenue has been generated by non-HOA residential communities in the past fiscal year / past 3 fiscal years?
9. How much tax revenue has been allocated to services of non-HOA residential communities in the past fiscal year / past 3 fiscal years?
10. Have you studied the intangible, social costs of homeowners, condo, and cooperative associations?