3 Ways HOAs Can Bring Their Neighborhoods Together

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Homeowners associations were created to help maintain the standards of residential neighborhoods. Those standards apply to everything from architecture and outbuildings to landscaping and pets. They manage the community’s interests and advance the collective interests of its members.

HOAs often get a bad rap as police states, citing and penalizing members who fail to comply with its rules. Although the reputation may be deserved in some cases, HOAs can provide opportunities with the opposite effect. They can unite and delight rather than divide and irritate.

The benefits of an HOA can far outweigh the detriments, but only if it pursues its role in positive ways. Here are three ways HOAs can bring their neighborhoods together, rather than pull them apart.

1. Create Vibrant Common Areas

A lot of neighborhoods governed by HOAs feature common areas designed to make them more attractive. Swimming pools, golf courses, clubhouses, playgrounds, and meeting spaces are often integrated into neighborhoods. However, that doesn’t mean they’re used by the residents who live there.

For common areas to unite neighbors, they need to appeal to everyone in ways that draw them in. For example, a well-executed design for a park featuring fun and durable playground equipment will likely attract young families. But HOAs need to get older residents and adults without children to mingle there as well.

Adding features such as benches, tables, and grills will draw a more mixed crowd. Putting in a fenced-in dog park adjacent to the playground can be a magnet for pet owners. The idea is to put everyone in the neighborhood, regardless of their differences, within proximity to one another.

When the park, playground, and pool are shuttered for inclement weather, HOAs can bring the outside in by creating inviting indoor spaces. Installing playground equipment, sheltered areas for pets, and seating in a heated building will promote gathering all year round.

When residents pay their HOA fees, they’re paying for common areas whether they use them or not. Creating those spaces with everyone in mind is vital if the HOA’s goal is to have all members use them. Plus, it will make paying those dues worth it for everyone.

2. Open Communication Options for Dialog

If HOAs are still just pinning notices to bulletin boards in common areas, they’re way behind the curve. The days of communicating at, rather than with, members should be long over. It’s time to explore options that do more than keep residents apprised of what’s going on. They should also engage them in conversation.

Create an HOA website that provides information about the neighborhood to prospective residents, but it should also publish member-only information. HOA member pages can be accessed by administrator permission or codes. Those pages can post meeting agendas and minutes, neighborhood news, photos, videos, and host comments.

If a website is too complicated, use a social media members-only page to accomplish the same goals. Pages can include links to Google Docs with those meeting, board, and committee documents accessible only with permission. Social media is a great way to keep residents informed up to the minute and provide a forum for questions, answers, and input.

Of course, an old-fashioned printed newsletter is still an option. It may not engage residents like digital platforms can, but it can invite them to meetings where they can have conversations. They just need to be published regularly, distributed to every household and posted prominently to do the job.

Bringing together a neighborhood begins with engaging everyone in conversation. Residents should have tools for discussing what’s important to them and how the HOA can improve their lives. Everyone should have a voice.

3. Send Out the Welcoming Committee

The welcome wagon of olden times may have gone by the wayside, but HOA welcoming committees are never out of style. That first contact with new neighborhood residents may well set the stage for their future involvement.

One tried-and-true way to welcome new residents is by hand-delivering a gift basket. These can be simple, filled with baked goods or cheese, crackers, fruit, and a bottle of wine. Or, if there are business owners in the neighborhood, they may want to contribute products or coupons as part of the package.

Depending on how large the neighborhood is, a meet and greet is a nice touch, as long as the newbies are open to one. Or, the HOA can host routinely scheduled block parties where everyone who has joined since the last one is introduced. 

Residents active in running the HOA should meet with those who have just moved into the neighborhood. It’s an opportune time to review HOA rules and answer questions. It shouldn’t be like a business meeting. Have the conversation over coffee or cocktails instead.

Neighbors greeting neighbors and helping them get settled offers a promising launch to this new relationship. A warm welcome can jumpstart those feelings of belonging, so hitch up the HOA wagon and greet them.

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors

These are three great ways HOAs can bring their neighborhoods together. But they can also unify residents by being of service, rather than a hindrance, to their lives. Being instructive rather than punitive and governing with the spirit of rules rather than the letter of the law will help.

In other words, HOAs should be good neighbors. If they are, neighbors will unite behind an organization that’s beneficial to them. Good fences may make good neighbors, but good HOAs bring them together.

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