Do We Owe Them Anything?

Sherman McCray is 81 years old. He was an Army veteran who saw the brutality of the Korean War, but he fought because he thought it was his duty to protect the honor of his fellow Americans.

In the post-war years, he married the love of his life. When she died, he tried to build a life for another.  She, too, succumbed to the cruelties of age. A pension helped with some of Sherman’s expenses.

But over a period of years he began to feel the ailments and pains that take apart and disintegrate an old man’s life. After the heart attack and a gall bladder operation, there wasn’t much money left over.

One of the bills that arrived was from the Vista Homeowners Association in Orlando.  Sherman McCray says he tried to call the HOA lawyer to discuss the bill. But each time he did, another one hundred dollars was tacked onto his $339 dollar dues.

With collection costs, attorney’s costs, and 18% interest, the overdue amount rose into the thousands. The lien from the HOA said they planned to take his house. He just couldn’t understand how his entire life could be stolen from him over a paltry bill. In a hand-written note, he pleaded with the judge not to take away an old man’s home, one that he’d worked so hard to build.

The lawyers for the Vistas Homeowner Association essentially said, “it’s too bad. It’s just the way the law in Florida works.”

In a few days, the desperately ill 81 year old veteran will be kicked out into the streets where he’ll sit among a pile of his belongings. His old black dog will comfort him while he figures out what to do. His home will be auctioned off for a few thousand dollars to help fill the HOA’s treasury.

Mary Goldin, president of the Vistas Homeowners Association refused to come to the  door to talk to a reporter.,0,6837576.column

Ward Lucas
Author of
Neighbors At War: The Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association

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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

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