The Source - October 2, 2013
12:55 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

The Source: Fighting Your Home Owner's Association | Big Changes At The MPO

In the first segment:

"You can't sell a hotdog on the street without having a license, but you can manage these associations and millions of dollars in people's assets with nothing more than a business card," -Evan McKenzie.

It seems these days everyone has a story about their Home Owners Association (HOA), a hair-pulling, eye-rolling, exasperated story. According to the Community Association Institute, an HOA/Community Association advocacy group, more than 63 million Americans live in communities managed by HOAs, which includes 3.4 million Texans. 

HOAs can provide security, ensure people maintain their landscapes, and keep up shared spaces. They are mandatory depending on where a person lives and they levy fees and penalties on homeowners. Where HOAs across the country have run into controversy is in the leveling of fines and raising of fees. The industry in Texas and beyond is largely unregulated and with no state oversight in most places allegations of abuse are rampant.

"You can't sell a hotdog on the street without having a license, but you can manage these associations and millions of dollars in people's assets with nothing more than a business card," says Evan McKenzie, professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and author of the book "Beyond Privatopia: Rethinking Residential Private Government." 

Examples of embezzlement, mismanagement, and extortion come to light through the media since no one in government is watching says Evan McKenzie listing only four states with an Ombudsman in place (Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and Virginia). According to McKenzie, who has also advised HOAs on proper management, largely these are well-run organizations by honest people, but the recourse for homeowners is staggeringly deficient.  Add to that their political clout, and homeowners are left with few options.

"Oh they have enormous influence because homeowners aren't organized," he says, resulting in a one-sided argument.  

Here in San Antonio, business writer for the Express-News, Patrick Danner has detailed some shady happenings on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse. He joins us to talk about his recent articles on one company, DTND Sierra Investments LLC, buying up HOA fee foreclosures and kicking people out of their homes.  

Evan McKenzie and Patrick Danner join us to talk about their research into HOAs.

In the second segment:

The San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization manages federal dollars for urban transportation. They control $200 million in funds and have recently expanded the number of people at the deciding table adding three spots, five cities and three counties to their Transportation Planning Board after a few contentious attempts in the Bexar County Commissioners' Court.  

County Commissioner Kevin Wolff along with Leon Valley Mayor Chris Riley join us to talk about the effort to get the MPO revamped and the rationale.

*The Source airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM - audio from this show will be posted by 5:30 p.m.

Related program: