HOAs and the decline in community social capital

In a direct reference to HOAs and social capital, Craig Walton, speaking of conditions in Southern Nevada, comments on Rothman that the developer’s planned community [HOA] subdivision created living that was intensely privateand reflect “the community’s preoccupation with the self.” Craig continues,

Rothman reflects on the need for public spaces and their recent decline Parks and libraries offered shared space and commonality of values, civic interaction and socialization. They combined education, relaxation, and social cohesiveness, all desirable traits in a growing community. They were crucial building blocks, pieces of the puzzle of quality of life that served the community and enhanced its reputation. . . .This dire warning is rooted in the absence of social capital in southern Nevada, because the power of developers to obtain and use land for increasingly expensive housing goes unchecked by elected and appointed public officials.”

These associations do not create positive social capital consisting of social networks and connections with reciprocal relationships, social interactions, trustworthiness and mutual obligations between the powerful boards and the rank and file homeowners. Rather, HOAs are a major cause of the destruction of social capital within the subdivision community. And as HOAs have become institutionalized — being accepted without question as “that’s the way it is” — they have made a substantial contribution to the decline in social capital in America.

Read the complete paper, The Effect of Homeowners Associations on Social Capital in Communities