After two of the most challenging, fearful and taxing years in recent memory, it is finally beginning to feel as though we are coming out the other side of the jolting tailspin that has been the COVID-19 pandemic.  The easing and (in some cases) removal of mask mandates and social distancing protocols have life feeling *almost* normal again in many parts of the country. Yet, perhaps, not all of these endings are quite so welcomed.  Some of the moratoriums put into place to protect homeowners through the most difficult times of the pandemic are coming to an end as well.  What effect will this have for members of HOA controlled communities, and what should be done moving forward?

In the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, some very distraught homeowners are desperately seeking aid and guidance, as they fight to retain ownership of their homes.  The homeowners association began the process of foreclosing on more than 50 homes within the Green Valley Ranch community.  This is an exceedingly high number of foreclosures, given that the total number of HOA executed foreclosures for the entire city of Denver for 2021 was 119, with most other HOAs reporting no more than 5.  City leaders, as well as advocates for members of the community are calling for a full-on investigation of the association.

Members of the community say that the foreclosures were due to an alarming number of overreaching and exorbitant fines.  Local news stations have run multiple stories regarding these actions, telling the tales of just a few of the residents that are poised to lose their homes.  One woman, who was interviewed by the local FOX station, and wished to remain anonymous, stated that she had no idea that she was in this unfortunate position.  Her husband had been battling the HOA for six years over a violation.  She had been under the impression that the matter had been resolved before his death after battling COVID.  However, at the end of February this year, she was informed by individuals who came to her door to alert her that she was about to be foreclosed upon.  

Spokespersons for the HOA say that the seemingly high number of foreclosures is a bit misleading because they are simply backlogged after putting a hold on foreclosures in 2020.    Now, after the moratorium has expired, they are working on moving forward with the process that they would have implemented, had the moratorium not been put into place.  

What should be done?  Advocacy groups are citing this as a prime example of how dubious practices of fining homeowners for frivolous infractions can cause major crises for communities and why there needs to be drastic and immediate reform.  Some residents claim that the fines that they are facing are due to the blinds that they chose to hang in the windows in the front of their homes.  While a misguided decorating choice is something that you will almost certainly hear negative feedback about (perhaps an overheard conversation at a family Christmas celebration?  You knew that Aunt Rita always hated your style), we are fairly sure that most sane-minded folk would agree that it is no reason to be made homeless.    
So many things in a post-COVID world will require close examination.  While it may be starting to feel as though we can ease back into the lives that we lead before, should we be so quick to return to systems and practices that do not seem to serve us, just because it is what we had done in the past?  If we were able to, at the start of the pandemic, extend some compassion, and implement policies that permitted well-meaning residents to remain in their homes, regardless of their questionable choice of window coverings, or the frequency of which they mowed their front lawn, is it so hard to imagine a world where that compassion and grace is permanent?

If HOAs were able to both halt the foreclosure and lien process and still successfully conduct business within their communities, without sending the universe into sudden collapse, then perhaps the policies and practices that would seem to deliberately remove community members from their homes, are a bit outdated and need careful eyes and thoughtful minds to investigate their necessity.  Over the next months and years, we will continue to learn from the experience of the past two years.  We will, no doubt, hear many enticing and heartfelt arguments from both sides of this debate, and a solution may not come easily.  However, if we are lucky, perfahps compassion could be among the lessons that we allow ourselves to collectively take away from all of this.