HOAs and How They Came to Be

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HOAs have been around for a long time, and for good reason. They help make a pleasant and safe place in which to live. The history of homeowners associations starts in the mid-nineteenth century and continues to grow and expand today.

Nineteenth Century Idea

The nineteenth century was an exciting time for the United States. Thanks to the industrial revolution, the nation was shifting from an agricultural society to an industrial society. As a result, people began swarming to the cities to find work, but with so many people, the cities became dirty and noisy, which created an undesirable place in which to live. To answer this problem, railroad communities began to appear. This allowed people to work in the city but live outside the city and travel via rail. These railroad communities were mostly comprised of middle-class people, and they were the building blocks for modern associations.

Twentieth Century Expansion

In the twentieth century, the development of the car allowed people to live even further away from the city and railroads, so more communities began appearing. Although many of these communities didn’t really have formal rules and regulations, most of the residents had a shared idea of how the neighborhood should look and run. In the 1960s, HOAs grew thanks to the federal government. The Federal Housing Authority and the Urban Land Institute encouraged more residential developments.

The Fair Housing Act

Unfortunately, many of these communities focused more on exclusionary restrictions, and many prohibited certain races. For example, a Seattle, Washington neighborhood specifically stated that Jewish, Ethiopian and Asians were not allowed to live in the neighborhood. In 1968, however, the federal government created the Fair Housing Act that prohibited this type of discrimination.

The First Modern Planned HOA

The first modern planned HOA was Levittown. It was built in Long Island, and it was designed to offer veterans homes with low-interest loans. The area quickly grew between 1947 and 1951 to over 17,000 houses. There was no actual HOA in place, but rules and regulations existed. After Levittown, suburban living continued to grow, and more and more HOAs were established.

HOAs may have started in railroad communities, built to give workers a convenient place to live outside the city, but they have come a long way. Thanks to the federal government, they continue to evolve, providing desirable places in which to live.