Editor’s Note: The article HOA SYNDROME by Dr. Solomon isn’t about abuse in mobilehome parks, but abuse in condo organizations. We publish it here because there is similar abuse by managers in some mobilehome parks.
Many of us have experienced it. The notices for inconsequential infractions of the Rules and Regulations, the threats, the yelling by the manager, the attitude “if you don’t like it here, then move!” Why do you think the turn-over rate in some parks is so high? Residents just wanting to get out at any cost! And what about the suicides? Yes residents have committed suicide because of the abuse.
Now a psychologist in Nevada, Gary Solomon, has put a label on it – “HOA SYNDROME.” Dr Solomon doesn’t live in a mobilehome park, he lives in a stick built community with a Home Owners Association. Just read the article below and draw your own conclusions. In our opinion, HOA SYNDROME is alive and flourishing in mobilehome parks.
Now those affected to this abuse are fighting back, in court. Dr. Robin Huhn has hired legal counsel and is suing her HOA . It’s about time these illegal practices stopped. California mobilehome owners have a terrific option to draw that line in the sand – join COMO-CAL and be covered by the FILLS program.
HOA Syndrome by Gary Solomon,Psychologist
Gone are the days when pets, walking their obedient owners, strolled through neighborhoods and waved to fellow neighbors, taking a few moments to stop and chat and get caught up on the latest family news. Void are the invitations from a neighbor to gather and celebrate their child’s high school graduation, retirement party, acquisition of a shiny, stealth new car, or a forthcoming marriage. Why? Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs) and property management predators have infected entire communities–cities–inducing a pandemic of emotional and physical problems onto bewildered property owners. Welcome my fellow Americans to a new diagnosable psychiatric disorder:
My name is Gary Solomon, A.A., B.A., MPH., M.S.W., Ph.D., Ph.D.(abd). I am a published author, tenured psychology professor at the College of Southern Nevada, psychotherapist, researcher, expert witness, and human rights advocate.
Shortly after I moved to Calico Ridge (a community in Las Vegas with an HOA) I began noticing something odd. People appeared to be abnormally anxious, nervous, hypervigilant, worried, irritated, paradoxically unsettled in a well seasoned community. Being a psychotherapist and researcher, I would not let my own narcissism get in the way of comprehending what was taking place around me, concluding that I was the cause of the problem. “Certainly it was not me. I just got here,” I thought to myself. “Yes, I am at the entrance to the subdivision.” “Yes, the place could use a little tidying up,” I self-acknowledged. “But, I’m a nice, friendly, approachable man. What’s going on here?”
It would take me slightly over a year to understand what was happening around me. Ultimately, my awareness would become a spinoff of my current research. I learned that residents, primarily principal homeowners, were living in a war zone, not identifiable by bombs, guns and burning buildings. Rather, a war zone masterfully orchestrated by a few fellow homeowners attempting to control their companion neighbors while making a few bucks on the side and gaining sadistic pleasure from watching their neighbors live in pain.
HOA Syndrome falls into the psychiatric category of Anxiety Disorders. The Syndrome is characterized by a cluster of signs and symptoms–psychophysiological indicators–such as:
• feeling angry much of the time
• tired and fatigued
• on-edge or irritable
• unhappy in one’s own home
• depressed and sad
• nihilistic (hopeless)
• over or under eating
• sleeping disorders and/or nightmares
• fear of going to one’s own mailbox,
• loss of identity
• fear of allowing one’s children to play in their own neighborhood
• fear of having one’s car ticketed or towed
• stressed out
• body aches and pains
• intestinal problems and/or acid reflux
• memory loss
• obsessive rumination
• temporal mandibular joint problems (TMJ) and/or grinding of teeth
• fear of losing one’s pet
• sexual dysfunction
What Causes HOA Syndrome?
At the root of HOA Syndrome is intentional, longitudinal and methodical harassment. Shortly after the individual takes possession of their property, the HOA strategically begins to focus on the homeowner’s minor, if not non-existent infractions. The purpose for these attacks is to create an income stream. This income stream makes its way into the pockets of the management companies, collection agencies and attorneys, none of whom live within the community that they are harassing. Like ravenous parasites, these organizations feed off of fear-based harassment. The homeowner, now locked into a mortgage, feels powerless over the HOA’s relentless hounding for more and more money. In short: the evolution of schoolyard bullying and lunch money stealing has turned into adult comportment known in the legal world as, racketeering, financial exploitation and extortion, and neighborhood money pilfering.
The predators, those in a position of authority (Capos) volunteer to be on the board of the HOA. The Capos gain power and an inflated sense of self. Remarkably, they hire outside agencies at enormous cost to themselves and their neighbors to oversee their infliction of fines and penalties. Once in power, they impose more and more punishment on their fellow neighbors. The threat of fines, liens and foreclosure on their neighbors cause these people to lose all touch with reality. Almost as if in a psychotic state or delusion, their actions continue, all the while knowing what they are doing to others. As time passes they become sadists who stand in judgment and control of their fellow human beings. They turn their backs on those in need, especially the elderly who are not in a position to defend or protect themselves, easy prey for the HOA. While this is taking place, private for-profit companies reap the bounty of their free HOA laborers, becoming tantamount to Nazi concentration camp Capos.
Having signed “The Document (the CC&Rs)” these people, the homeowners, unwittingly subordinate their constitutional rights to “The Community.” The legal statutes (laws that feed the CC&Rs) is literally the hammer that repeatedly raises and pounds the entire neighborhood into submission: both psychological and physiological ruination. Like something out of Rod Sterlings’ “Twilight Zone,” individuals roam the neighborhoods pointing their fingers at each other searching for the transgressions of their neighbors. “They have a weed!” “Look at the color of their door!” “There, see? They have a brown spot in the lawn!” And on and on and on. As time passes, the individuals residing in communities become stricken, individually and collectively, with HOA Syndrome. After a while they begin to go after those neighbors whom they do not like. Each home functions like an island in the middle of a separate country, no longer functioning as a community. Desperate and despondent, the homeowners have acquired so much pathology that the collective hopelessness is visually apparent.
Editors Note: This is not the entire article written by Dr. Solomon. Dr. Solomon has also written an article on “senior abuse.” Both articles are terrific and mobilehome residents need to be aware what is happening to them is not their imagination, but very, very real. Now is the time to fight back, Dr. Solomon and his group is. We are happy to send you both articles written by Dr. Solomon (free by email, $5 by first class mail). Keep in mind, he isn’t referring to life in a mobilehome park, but life in a community run by an HOA. In essence, the HOA is like a park manager.