Outrageous: GA Homeowners Association Says "Sorry, Disabled Veteran, You Can't Have a House"
Imagine you served your country as an Army sergeant who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Imagine that during that second tour in 2008 an IED device exploded, causing you to sustain lifelong disabilities: paralysis on your right side and the inability to speak brought about by a stroke tied to the injuries from the blast.
Imagine that a non-profit charity dedicated to providing homes to wounded and disabled veterans offered to build you a 2,785 square foot home, free and clear, with all the amenities needed to make your life better. A home where your family could take care of you. A home that would be built in a nice neighborhood in a suburb of Augusta, Georgia. Imagine your family moved to that suburb and rented a home while they waited for your new home to be built. You even started sending your children to the local schools. Life was looking up.
Now imagine your worst nightmare: the local homeowners association (HOA) of the subdivision where your home was to be built decided it didn't want you there and did everything in its power to keep you out. Now stop imagining, because this is the true story of former Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Gittens and a groups of assholes known as the Knob Hill Property Owners Association of Augusta who didn't want Sean Gittens, wounded warrior, living next door:
Homes for Our Troops formally announced at a press conference today they would not build a home for paralyzed veteran Sean Gittens at the Knob Hill subdivision in Evans. [...]
Homes for Our Troops has built homes free of charge for over 100 severely disabled veterans nationwide. [President of Homes for our Troops, John Gonsalves] said it’s the first time a build has been blocked by a homeowners association.
What was the excuse given by the homeowners who spent so much time and effort keeping Sgt. Gittens from having a home built for him by this laudable charity? Well that depends. Their excuses were flimsy at best.
Let's go through the list shall we?
- The paperwork excuse:
Construction was to begin on Friday, but Gonsalves said the homeowners association at the last minute filed a cease-and-desist order on the project, claiming that he had failed to file all the necessary paperwork.
"This could have been a done deal had they just gotten us the paperwork," said Rick Trump, president of the Knob Hill Homeowners Association, during a phone interview. "Who's really to blame here? Is it that we blocked them or that they're disorganized and don't have everything they need?"
- The "This will lower our property values" excuse:
The association had blocked construction of the Gittens home after months of negotiations because it believed the house would lower neighboring property values. [...]
Sharon Gittens, Sean’s wife, told news media Monday the family decided not to stay in Knob Hill because they did not feel they would be welcome.
A claim disputed, by the way by one prominent real estate expert:
In reality, though, the HOA needn't have worried, according to New York appraiser Alice Palmisano.
The claim that smaller houses drag down neighboring property values is unfounded, she said. "It usually works the other way around, where the smaller house typically sees a boost in home value," but there's no evidence that smaller homes hurt the value of larger ones. Given the special nature of the home, it wouldn't even be used as the basis for a "comparable property," she said.
"Just because a custom home is built for a handicapped person does not mean that home can't sell to a conventional buyer," she added. "And considering the circumstances, it sounds kind of mean-spirited."
- Or maybe the "They aren't our kind of people" excuse:
For Gittens' wife, Sharon, the message conveyed has been less hospitable.
"They just don't want us here," she said during a phone interview. Gittens moved to Knob Hill with her husband and children last year and has been renting an apartment in the development. Her husband's military career began in 1988 with a tour of duty in Kuwait during Desert Storm and ended in 2010 when he was forced to take medical retirement.
She says that she doesn't accept HOA members' claims that their new home is too small for the area, as there are other properties in the development that are even smaller. She took particular umbrage to the association's request that they add a second floor to the home.
"My husband doesn't need that. He's wheelchair bound," she said.
Here's a picture of Sgt 1st class Gittens (ret.) by the way:
The press conference held by Homes for Our Troops President, John Gonsalves, and the Gittens' family, which announced their reluctant decision to end their fight to build a home in the Knob Hill subdivision, was not attended by any member of the Knob Hill Home Owners Association. Its president, Rick Trump, did however send his "regrets" by email.
To which all I can add is:
"You effing bastards!
This man served your country, fought in the wars to which he was sent by George Bush, wars no doubt you supported. Maybe you even had one of those "Support the Troops" magnetic ribbons attached to your fat ass SUV's Fighting over there. Well Sgt. Gittens suffered immeasurable harm "fighting for your freedoms" and instead of allowing him to live with dignity and honor as your neighbor, you did everything in your power to keep him out of your precious subdivision. Then not one of you had the decency to show your cowardly faces at the Gittens' family press conference held because of your relentless opposition to having a wounded veteran live among you.
You people are classless, mean and ugly specimens of whatever type of insect eats bull shit. I deeply regret we live in the same country. May you all rot in hell.