guest blog by Nila Ridings
Over the past week I have been emailing back and forth with Andy Ostrowski. He’s hoping to become the newly elected member of Congress from Pennsylvania. Tuesday, November 4th is the critical day that will decide whether his goal has been achieved. Please get out and vote regardless of what state you live in. If you live in Pennsylvania give your neighbor, church friends, golfing buddies, yoga sisters, or the freshly registered voter from the college campus a ride to the polls!
Somebody out there in HOA Land put a ‘bug’ in Andy’s ear about the abuse and suffering home owners are dealing with in condos and HOAs. He had no idea how bad it really is. He had friends a while back who had problems with their HOA, but that was where his exposure to the insanity stopped. Our emails have ping ponged back and forth and most of you know I don’t candy-coat my words. Andy knows we need a hero. He knows we need a legislator who will work across party lines. And he knows we don’t need any more politicians in bed with the CAI! He gets it!
You’ll find his website at the bottom of this blog.
And now a message from Andy Ostrowski-
Homeowners’ Associations – A Need for Congressional Action
“During my run for Congress, I have met many people with many unique needs for assistance, and government action. None has been as compelling as those Americans who are involved in property ownership in Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs).
I was surprised to learn that some 60 million Americans own property subject to HOAs, and have heard many horrific stories about the abuses that they suffer.
Home ownership – the right to own property, and use it for the purposes of raising a family, and providing solace for all of our private affairs, is a core value in our constitutional republic, and, in many ways, is part and parcel to the “pursuit of happiness.” These HOAs, however, are creating the pursuit of misery.
I have a lot to learn, but have heard enough, and understand enough to know that this is a widespread problem across this country, and something that may require Congressional action to address.
The Community Associations Institute (CAI) is a trade organization that passes itself off as an educational organization designed to promote “professionalism, effective leadership, and responsible citizenship,” but is, in reality, a lobbying group backed by builders and developers, and bent on getting their access to legislators across the county to create a legislative field tilted heavily in their favor – and they have been successful.
HOAs, and their Boards, serve public purposes traditionally reserved for governments, and elected officials, and this reveals one of the true hearts of the problem – there is no accountability to oaths of office to uphold and defend the constitution. People who try to sue these HOAs are told that they are not government entities, and do not have the same responsibilities and duties as do their governments. They are creatures of corporate law, and planned development acts.
Individuals unknowingly give up core constitutional rights to private entities created under the authority of law, and subject themselves to foreclosure actions, fines, forced entries, and evictions without the protections of law otherwise available. It is the lack of accountability that we at least theoretically can demand from our government, through, at the very least, the right to vote, that is the source of the true harm in this area – one that affects the lives of 60 million Americans – this needs to change.
To tie this in with my particular expertise, these HOAs are often then protected by the courts, which are subject to the same crony influences that the legislatures are often subjected to, and is further evidence of how the system is tilted in favor of the big banks, and corporate and monied interests, and away from the rights of the individual.
There are many proposals around among the individuals being hurt and harmed, and I will be studying and considering them all. The AARP, for example, has recently voiced concern that homeowners associations pose a risk to the financial welfare of their members. They have proposed that a homeowners “Bill Of Rights” be adopted by all 50 states to protect seniors from rogue Homeowner Associations. This bill of rights should apply to all homeowners and Constitutional protections should also be restored for a fair and balanced playing field.
The plight of the individuals whose pursuit of happiness is being obstructed, and whose lives are being ruined, is one area that needs specific focus.
This is a true civil rights issue as it involves legislatures across the country enacting laws that cut off constitutional rights, and access to courts for millions of Americans, and I will fight to give government back to the people by fighting for the rights of these individuals.”
Website for Andy Ostrowski for Congress: