From the Homefront: HOAs bring neighbors together
Bob Fischer firstname.lastname@example.org June 20, 2012 2:32PM
Updated: July 23, 2012 7:20AM
More and more often, a question asked around town is whether Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) are still relevant. Long-time association leaders and board members, looking for a break from their neighborhood duties, are having difficulty finding “new blood” to step up and become involved. The result is associations in jeopardy.
For areas where mandatory associations manage common property, the HOA is spelled out in deeds and covenants, and the board is legally necessary. Potentially significant amounts of “reserve funds” and ongoing statutory and fiduciary obligations are involved. Voluntary associations, effectively neighborhood social clubs, do not have this legal reason to keep going. An easy course of action when the leadership for these organizations gets tired is to simply disband, leaving a void that might not be recognized until someone remembers or requires a service no longer provided.
Underlying causes for the disinterest might include a new generation less inclined to be “joiners;” the economy and a need to focus on personal versus community needs; community turnover; or just the lack of compelling reasons to get involved. Nevertheless, the disappearance of these neighborhood stalwarts could have far-reaching consequences for our community. If nothing else, as we move toward an era of City Council district representation, strong, organized neighborhoods might just be what the doctor ordered to gain government attention for local needs.
Recognizing the need to recruit and include motivated new members, the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation recently revised its bylaws to allow individual homeowners, not part of a recognized Homeowners Association, to join the confederation. By opening its membership beyond associations, the confederation will tap into a talent pool of individuals who, through no fault of their own, are not privileged to live within the boundaries of a HOA or whose HOA has ceased to exist. Through this expanded outreach, unrepresented neighborhoods can become included in the confederation, and the NAHC’s ability to connect people to what matters most — each other, neighbor to neighbor — will be enhanced.
An upcoming opportunity for neighborhood connection is on the first Tuesday in August. Naperville’s 17th annual celebration of National Night Out takes place from 6 until 9 that evening. Neighbors can meet, socialize and enjoy the summer. City crews will be out visiting registered events, giving taxpayers an opportunity to see how their dollars translate into services that can be provided to maintain and sustain our quality of life. Assistant to the City Manager Amy Emery tells me she is “looking forward to another successful National Night Out. Whether this is a small first-time event or long-standing neighborhood tradition, we hope to see neighborhoods across the city participate.”
Participation is easy. Grab some neighbors, haul out the lawn chairs, lock the doors and gather around a common spot to catch up, share some snacks or just hang out. Last year there were 36 neighborhood events. This year 27 groups already have registered. To sign your neighborhood up, contact Amy by July 11 at 630-420-6043 or email her at email@example.com.
Bob Fischer is vice president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.