A Handicapped Youngster? Screw ’em!

Great guest post by Dave Russell yesterday, good enough that I’d like to add to it.

Around the country, Homeowners Associations continue to wildly discriminate against families with handicapped youngsters. They’re shunned, they’re fined, they’re labeled ‘bad people’ who aren’t allowed to use the common areas. These stories are as disgusting as they are endemic. And they should serve as a warning to any potential home buyer that HOA property is fundamentally diseased, unfit for Americans who believe in human rights.

Yes, H.U.D. occasionally comes to the rescue on behalf of a damaged family. But these federal lawsuits are so rare they can, at best, be described as ‘show trials’ similar to the massive HOA racketeering case now being conducted in Nevada. A show trial is exactly what it sounds like. The feds ride onto the scene like rodeo cowboys, crack a few whips, and hope that other criminals across the country will be deterred from committing similar crimes. They never are.

The only solution to human rights violations by the HOA system is federal fines massive enough to stagger the imagination. Under the current system the feds win an occasional lawsuit, the HOA insurance company pays for the lawyers and fines, and the homeowners never have a hint about what really happened.

How to solve the problem? When an HOA commits an ongoing violation of federal law confiscate the entire neighborhood under public nuisance laws. Every house, every family gets evicted without compensation.

Outrageous, you say?

Impossible and illegal you say?

Hey, just look at a 2006 Supreme Court decision called Kelo. The government essentially confiscated an entire neighborhood simply for the crime of “not looking nice enough.” Actually, there was some underlying corruption there. A pharmaceutical company wanted the neighborhood for a construction project and the state gave it to them. The irony is that the drug firm decided they didn’t really want the land after all. Now this former neighborhood is just a field of weeds.

Maybe what this country really needs is a few more weeds.

(link to story on cerebral palsy family driven from Kentucky neighborhood)


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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.

4 thoughts on “A Handicapped Youngster? Screw ’em!

  1. Deborah Goonan

    Ward, every resident, especially owners, pays dearly when a few courageous homeowners assert their rights in court, when cases are egregious. The problem is, as you point out, justice is elusive when executive level regulatory agencies such as HUD or state Regulatory agencies over HOAs do little in the way of meaningful enforcement. What really gets the attention of HOAs and the media are these types of cases filed in civil court, or rare filing of criminal charges.

    Many cases of HOA abuse, discrimination, and criminality are settled out of court and with gag orders. Others go unreported out of fear or ignorance of owners and residents.

    Not all owners agree with the Board’s actions against the family of this disabled child. The Board calls the shots, and they are ultimately the responsible individuals. Problem is, they are shielded by the HOA corporation structure and backed by insurance policies and attorneys paid for by all of the Homeowners! HOAs as a form of governance is fundamentally flawed. No doubt about it.

    There is a lively online discussion following the news article. Most of the commenters are outraged by the HOA’s actions. Most People do not want to live in one! Many think they can simply choose to avoid HOAs, but I and another commenter are educating them with the facts – housing choices outside of the HOA regime are becomig more and more limited. Americans need to wake up to that reality and demand “No more HOAs!”

    Unfortunately, Ward, as you note, there are also folks who think the HOA should have the right to push people around and restrict their neighbors’ rights for the sake of appearances or home values. What’s needed is a change of hearts and minds. Some positive social change is starting to occur, slowly but surely. People are beginning to fight back, to become more vocal. They are starting to reject HOAs and Condos. A lot more education is needed, and it must not come from CAI! Social change happens over time, for better or for worse.

    Public policy must once and for all OUTLAW discriminatory and unconstitutional restrictive covenants and ByLaws – even if that means eliminating the HOA form of corporate, private governance as we know it. Public policy must uphold the rights of individuals, and not sacrifice the rights of the people to corporate interests such as real estate developers, investors, lenders, attorney firms, NAR, CAI, NAHB, etc. for the sake of pandering for private funding to prop up local and state governments. The special interests promise to increase revenue with property taxes, creation of jobs, and attracting domestic and foreign investment in real estate – and our elected officials buy into such nonsense.

  2. Cynthia

    Ward, the horrible sentiments in many HOAs against the disabled are not just against disabled children. These terrible discriminatory sentiments and acts are inflicted upon disabled adults as well in many HOAs and especially, the abusive ones. I have one despot HOA board member on tape whining about disabled people and the fact, “they are going to cost us money,” so he said. This conversation at a members meeting was about parking spaces, yet he felt compelled to pick on the disabled in this small association, who actually had never asked for any accommodation. His agenda became clear, within a year, or so, and it was to get rid the disabled homeowners. Drive them out and steal their homes! There are cases, upon cases, upon cases and the sad fact is HUD will not step in unless you have, or had a HUD backed mortgage and there are no disability agencies helping the disabled homeowners in these crimes against them. It is absolutely despicable and having lived this nightmare and the unthinkable crimes an abusive HOA board, HOA attorney and some neighbors will commit against an innocent homeowner, I feel our investigative and enforcement agencies in all cases could care less. No matter how bad the discrimination, housing abuse, property damages, legal abuse, criminality and whatever else these horrible groups and their accomplices inflict, our investigative and enforcement agencies typically will not get involved.

  3. Nila Ridings

    Ask any person who is disabled or has a child who is challenged in some way and they will all say, “I never thought this would happen to me.”

    All board members and attorneys should keep that in mind when they set out to destroy the neighbor with a handicap. Their luck could run out and they could be the next victim. And you can bet they will be the first to expect exceptions to the rules to accommodate them.

    It’s sad to say, but I’ve learned that board members are ALL ABOUT THEMSELVES. Their egos kick in and their heads get big and suddenly they feel they are above everybody else in the neighborhood. Realistic people recognize tragedy isn’t selective and nobody is exempt which is something board members have failed to learn.

  4. tom dee

    Our HOA got into a pissing match with the person next to our house. He had a big truck which he parked on the road next to our house. The woman started fining us for the truck which we did not own. When we objected she started hitting us with other fines. In a blink of an eye they had more fines than the yearly cost of the hoa membership. When they were told that I was in the hospital with major surgery the woman director comment was no one in our community cannot afford to hire someone to do the yard work. Her major complaint was there was not enough mulch in the garden. I told her that I looked at the rules and the only rule was the word garden for the first 36 inches around the house. I did not want grief nor did I want rotting wood around the house. They finally published rules which allowed stone and I quickly put stone. They continued to hit us with fines and I took a complaint to the state which did nothing. Anyone who tries to state the hoa abuse can be solved at local level is crazy. It needs someone who will get the federal government to enforce rules already passed. People just cannot do anything when faced with the power and corruption of the hoa industry.


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