It’s not often when a beleaguered homeowner gets a chance to beat up a bullying Homeowners Association, but I do love to see it happen.
I remember my own battles with a Homeowners Association in Morrison, Colorado. My wife had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She had no visible symptoms whatsoever, but the president of the HOA said he would not allow ANY accommodations for a disability. He told us, “well, you’ll just have to move downtown.” I was blown away at his bluntness. But this HOA president, Hatch Wroton, told me, “You know, in a restaurant people just kind of lose their appetite around gimps. They don’t want to see them.”
That was my new awakening that HOAs were too exclusive for blacks, gays, Jews and ‘gimps’ like my wife. Wroton was the former Martin Marietta scientist who designed some of the spacecraft which were destined to land on Mars. But this neighborhood will never escape from the legacy of this anti-Semitic, anti-homosexual, anti-Negro board and its president. There are others to take their place, of course, and the hatred will wax and wane.
But the message is that the extreme bigotry of my HOA is NOT unique. It goes on everywhere.
The story linked below is about a disabled Marine pilot from California who was also treated horribly. They wouldn’t give him access to the community swimming pool. It apparently made the other residents uncomfortable. Never mind that the federal government found their actions illegal. There’s a settlement. The HOA insurance company will pay the elderly couple a hundred thousand bucks if they just take their disabled, disfigured military hero to some other neighborhood.
(link to story on disabled Marine)
I’m heartened by their ‘victory,’ but — needless to say — horrified by their story.
It isn’t unique, though, as YOU know, Ward.
I hope you’ll permit me to share my story. It seems appropriate, given the nature of this article. Maybe one of your readers will be interested enough to peruse the documents that I’ve linked to.
It’s worse than I even make it out to be.
I asked for a reasonable accommodation, as a legally disabled man. As a result, I’ve lost absolutely everything.
I’m now battling worsening heart problems … for which there’s no clear, reasonably safe treatment options.
While I cheer with this couple in their triumph and I deeply appreciate hearing any HOA story with a positive ending, the real truth is that as a whole, HOAs win by forcing someone to move out. Even as dollars are paid, the HOA wins. A resounding message echoes down the halls of the HOA: whomever challenges the HOA again will meet a similar fate.
There’s no value placed on uprooting one’s home, one’s entire household contents, finding new doctors, friends, redecorating a home, hours lost in painting rooms again, etc. There’s no price for the long term damage done to morale. If only our legislators would hear the thousands of homeowners pleading for help.
A similar pattern exists in our schools where the bullied student moves to a different school and is forced to find new friends elsewhere.
I’m unclear why the price to the HOA can’t be higher – higher penalties would make others take notice.
In the case of a Franklin, TN dispute where the HOA settled by paying $156,000 to the family with Down Syndrome children, the HOA apparently never learned any lesson. Mike Vaughn was quoted as saying, “We took it personally because we’re a welcoming neighborhood,” he said. “We’re moving on and we have a neighborhood we love.” How welcoming! Move your Syndrome-kids out! We’re not going to accommodate you!
We all bear a responsibility to our fellow man. It’s long past time to speak up on these issues.
Excellent points, well said.