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Welcome to On the Commons!

Image On The Commons is a weekly radio show, dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding homeowner associations (HOAs) and condominiums.  It is broadcast live from WEBR, Fairfax, Virginia and available on this web site.

Join us as we explore the world of homeowner associations and condominiums, which are the fastest growing form of residential development in America today.  This housing concept includes homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and both attached and detached single-family homes.  Unfortunately this type of housing is not as utopian as its advocates would have us believe.  Living in a homeowner association means giving up a part of the American dream.  It means giving up Constitutional rights and control over one’s most valuable asset - one’s home.

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 "Property in a thing consists not merely in its ownership and possession, but in the unrestricted right of use, enjoyment, and disposal. Anything which destroys any of the elements of property, to that extent, destroys the property itself. The substantial value of property lies in its use. If the right of use be denied, the value of the property is annihilated and ownership is rendered a barren right."  --- Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B Sanders

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Its Here! 

The new On The Commons  podcast site

Seven years of easy to find On the Commons Podcasts 

 

The Curent Show

On the Commons with Gary Solomon
This show is dedicated to the memory of
Monica (M.J.) Sadler 1956-2015

In his  new book HOA: Crisis in America Dr. Gary Solomon provides a key piece of the puzzle that allows us to begin to see the real picture of what living in an HOA does to us. He provides the science of how HOAs affect us.  We have always known that stress causes health problems and we also are aware that stress is part of our daily lives and is not something any of us will ever be able to completely avoid. However, most of our stress is short lived.  Once the immediate situation is over with, our stress levels returns to normal.  But what happens when the stressors follow you home and never leave?

Dr. Gary Solomon joins us On The Commons and explains the difference between normal, every day, short lived stress and the changes that occur in our bodies during these periods of stress.  He then explains how the stress of living in a residential association where stress doesn't come in short spurts but is always present affects us permanently.  The diseases we get can be, and often are, life threatening.

While the big picture of the devastation caused by HOAs is gradually coming into clearer focus, there are still a few missing pieces.  Dr. Solomon talks about the complete and total lack of data available about stress related diseases that are caused by HOAs.  What happens to patients who have suffered from these maladies?  Could they be prevented?  Would HOAs look different if we had the missing information?  How can we ensure that the data is collected?  This is where YOU, dear listeners, come in.  We do need your help with this project.  You can contact me through the show email .  The other missing piece of information is what is the true cost of HOAs?  We answer a lot of questions on this show but we also raise a lot that need to be addressed.     Listen to Gary Solomon
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On the Commons with Fred Fischer and Jill Schweitzer
Over the years we have been led to believe that people actually want HOA controlled housing.   We have been told HOAs protect property values and provide housing consumers with access to amenities reserved for the rich and famous.  Homeowners actually believed that their homes were worth more because there was a pool or a tennis court or a basketball hoop within walking distance.   So without question, they accepted all the inherent risks, restrictions and extra costs associated with homeowner associations and jumped into homeownership with both feet.  Over time American homeowners acquiesced and accepted all the negative nonsense that was part and parcel of this type of housing, believing it was inevitable.  And gradually, because of municipal association mandates, housing consumers found they had no options. All that was available was tacky little boxes, made of cardboard, wrapped in plastic, stacked one on top of the other, and that became the "norm".  

Fred Fischer and Jill Schweitzer join us On The Commons this week.  Fred has been digging through archives and researching local municipal zoning ordinances and discovered that there is more than one way to handle open spaces and amenities. Actually, he says you can maintain them publicly or privately, the former through special municipal districts funded by the residents who will benefit by the amenities through a special fee collected through mortgage companies, much like insurance and property taxes and the latter in the form of an HOA with HOA fees and dues.  However the "private" way of maintaining common areas comes with a whole host of additional risks and unlimited liabilities that are in fine print.  

Jill is a Realtor who would like to be able to provide her clients with a choice.  As she tells me, no one has ever asked her to find them a house in an HOA, in fact many of my clients specifically request non HOA housing.  So when Jill and Fred teamed up, combined their knowledge, skills and resources what they came up with was their aha moment.  Together they put together a report, still in draft form, to educate and lobby for choices in housing.  As they say,  there is a better way of doing this while giving housing consumers a choice.  Join us as we talk about the options and the many not so little white lies that have made their way into the legislatures across the country.   Listen to Fred and Jill Here
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