Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

PublicPolicyParadigms

CommNextWebHdr.jpg

The Community Next: Public Policy Paradigms Panel included CAI members and nonmembers. Stakeholder groups were represented by an academic, an insurance professional, a state legislative lobbyist, attorneys, community association volunteer leaders, community association managers and state legislators, each of whom have spent significant time interacting in the legislative process. The discussion led the group to identify the prevalence of challenges and opportunities that community associations have and may continue to encounter, issues that may be addressed in the next 15 years, and the impact of relationships with legislators, regulators, other decision-makers and stakeholders.
By 2030, at least one-third of all owner-occupied homes are expected to be located in a community governed and administered by an association. A critical shift is expected to occur between 2040 and 2050 whereby the community association model will become the majority form of housing in America. As this model continues to grow and communities continue to age, the challenges and opportunities identified in this report must be addressed.

»FOCUS ON PROVIDING A BROAD RANGE OF BENEFICIAL AND VALUABLE SERVICES
Community associations are community management organizations providing three core services— community, business and governance. In 2014, the estimated value of homes in associations was $4.95 trillion. As perceptions of community associations evolve over the next 15 years, focus must be on the broad range of services performed by associations and the beneficial value they provide. When legislative bodies focus solely on the governance functions of associations, the core community and business functions that are an essential part of the complex association model are ignored, leading to legislative enactments that underserve the community and business functions. Public policy must preserve the comprehensive and balanced treatment of community associations embodied in the uniform acts, while avoiding random solutions to rare circumstances that would impair self-governance and increase operational costs.

»TELL THE TRUE STORY OF COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS
Volunteer leaders and professionals should sharpen the image of community associations with the media, government decision-makers and the general public as polling by the Foundation for Community Association Research clearly shows. Partnerships with municipalities should be explored that recognize the vital responsibilities associations carry for infrastructure maintenance and repair. Public policy must reflect the model of community associations as a provider of a broad range of services and cultivate the respect, deference and autonomy for associations that is given to other business and social organizations.

»EVOLVE AND ADAPT THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY LEADER
The community association model relies on volunteer leaders. In 2014, an estimated 2.3 million board and committee members participated in their associations, performing 78 million hours of service at an estimated value of $1.6 billion. To continue fostering strong, responsive and harmonious communities:

-Membership on boards and committees must be more flexible and enable use of professional (compensated) directors 

-Leaders must be trained in governance and management

-Stakeholders must proactively convey the benefits of associations to decision-makers

-Disputes within the community must be resolved amicably through dispute resolution procedures 


»DESIGN WAYS TO REPAIR AND REPLACE RESERVE STUDIES
Associations maintain community infrastructure and building components and systems. But infrastructure and buildings are aging: as of 2014, 54 percent was at least 35 years old. Careful planning for future repair and replacement through reserve studies and reserve funding is the best physical and fiscal approach to fostering financial stability of associations.

»DEVELOP RESOURCES TO MEET DEMANDS OF AGING IN PLACE
There is no doubt that aging residents prefer living in their homes as long as possible. Currently, approximately 25 million Americans age 55 or older reside in community associations. Over the next 15 years, associations must develop the resources to meet increased demand for services for our older residents while being sensitive to the fact that many residents are on limited or fixed incomes. Public policy must consider flexible funding alternatives such as allowing tax credits for property tax and mortgage interest deductions that are of little use to many older residents. Further, the government must redirect funds expended on the nursing side to motivate older residents to stay in their homes by providing payments to associations for the services they provide.

»CREATE FLEXIBLE TOOLS FOR AGING COMMUNITIES
As communities age, particularly in changing metropolitan areas, their original use may no longer be the best use of land and environmental resources today. Public policy should provide an effective and sustainable legal structure that features reasonable procedures for termination and sale to parties seeking to redevelop the land, for dissolution of insolvent associations and for conversion of the form of ownership and organization. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA project standards need to be modified to accommodate these objectives.

»BE READY TO USE NEW TECHNOLOGY
Rapidly evolving technology and changing external conditions present challenges and opportunities for community associations, but many associations lack the tools that are essential to successful adaption. Public policy should foster flexibility in procedures for communications, meetings and voting, decision-making such as amendment approval procedures, dealing with environmental and energy factors, and expanding on-line information. Public policy must recognize that each association is unique and promote flexibility to allow the development of the most appropriate models at a pace that makes sense for each community.

»BUILD EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Community associations should build effective relationships with decision-makers—public officials at all levels of government and regulatory agencies. This begins with training association leaders, homeowners and professionals. Stakeholders should engage in proactive communications to inform decision-makers of the positive aspects and benefits of community associations. Associations should seek partnerships with research-focused institutions, such as colleges and universities, to develop objective and independent data and analyses. Association attorneys should advocate educational programs for judges and other attorneys to foster deeper understanding of the community association housing model.

FINAL THOUGHTS
CAI is uniquely situated as a multidisciplinary industry leader to promote effective steps to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead. From the viewpoint of homeowners, associations must be perceived as helping them achieve an enhanced quality of life as well as a return on their investment by increasing the property value of each neighborhood. From the viewpoint of the larger community and of society itself, associations must be recognized for lessening the financial burdens of municipalities and for stewardship of natural resources and energy.

© 2019-2020 Community Associations Institute