The Ghost of Christmas Past

guest blog by Dave Russell

In 2011 a friend of mine sent me a news report about 3-year-old Cooper Veloudis who has cerebral palsy. Cooper’s therapist suggested that a playhouse be built in the backyard of the family’s home. The playhouse cost about $5000.

However, the Andover Forest Homeowners Association in Lexington, Kentucky, said little Cooper’s house had to go because the HOA says it’s a structure and is prohibited. Cooper’s parents were fined $50 a day until they complied. What the HOA didn’t say is that there are other such structures in the same development. But nobody seemed to really care about those.

This story literally kept me up at night thinking that little Cooper was basically being foreclosed upon by the HOA. Where were the folks down at Fair Housing or the Americans with Disabilities Act people? Couldn’t anyone have stepped up to the plate and defended this little tykes therapy house?

As usual, the Homeowners Association won, and little Cooper’s playhouse was ‘foreclosed’ upon by the big, bad and powerful HOA. Somehow, this story still haunts me like the Ghost of Christmas Past, but also reminds me to be a little more understanding with the children in my own HOA community.

I sure hope I’m not the only one who’s haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Past. In time, just like in the Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, each board member and the pond-scum attorneys who represented Andover Forest Homeowners Association deserves a visit from one of Dicken’s ghosts.

If you are going to watch the news report linked below, you might want to have a Kleenex handy. I sure needed one.

(link to disabled boy’s therapy home on KTSM-TV)

 

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About

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.

1 thought on “The Ghost of Christmas Past

  1. Deborah Goonan

    If the members of the HOA expected the Board to enforce a restriction against families with children, or the disabled, would the Board be justified in doing so?

    Just because a restriction is written in the so-called CC&Rs “contract” does not make it Good or Just or Fair.

    Quite the contrary. Especially when enforced inconsistently, many HOA restrictions and rules amount to manipulative tools giving covert discrimination legitimacy.

    When my son was 3, I read stories to him such as “Mr. Pine’s Purple House,” an encouragement of individual expression among neighbors.

    What lesson will be learned by today’s children growing up in HOA compunds?

    Reply

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