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2020: Unexpected, But With Glimmers of “Good”

Aaron J. Goodlock – December 22, 2020

For many people, 2020 felt like “the year that never ends” (or never began). It’s been a difficult year for individuals, families, communities and HOAs grappling with the challenges and impacts of COVID-19.

In late January and February, the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States. By March, many businesses, including restaurants, gyms, retailers, commercial offices, and other “brick and mortar” facilities were on lockdown. Since the beginning of fall, schools have been operating almost exclusively through virtual online classrooms.

Since the pandemic took hold at the beginning of the year, communities have grappled with and navigated numerous iterations of federal, state and local public health orders, resulting in the “new normal” of working primarily from home, remote learning, curbside grocery service and outdoor-only dining. At the same time, families and communities are faced with never-before-seen levels of unemployment, job loss, and financial uncertainty.

The effects of COVID-19 are incredible – impacting countries and humans on a global scale, as well as at the federal and local levels, all the way down to individual communities, neighborhoods, streets and homes. This, in combination with pervasive political, social and economic uncertainty during a national election year in the United States, has resulted in varying levels of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty among many households.

The impacts are both immediate and long-term, known and unknown. For some, the worst is over. For others, it’s just beginning.

Yet, 2020 has not been all bad news. For many people, the recent approval and initial distribution of Coronavirus vaccines offers hope and encouragement, an indication and promise that there is light at the end of the 2020-pandemic tunnel.

Additionally, there are many positive aspects of 2020 that can and should be acknowledged, either because of the changes that have occurred or the opportunities presented for the post-pandemic world.

Below are some of the noteworthy, positive impacts on community associations that have transpired from the 2020 pandemic:

  • Homeowners, directors, officers, managers, and community volunteers have worked together to build stronger, more cohesive communities by focusing on the overall health and welfare of owners, residents and families
  • Communities have developed and established stronger communication networks to share information with owners and residents, including important health and safety information and guidance
  • Associations have developed “emergency response” protocols and systems to respond to and comply with new and evolving executive and public health orders
  • Boards of directors and management have implemented efficient policies and methods for hosting electronic/virtual board and member meetings through a variety online and software-based platforms (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoTo Meeting, etc.)
  • Homeowner and board member participation in association meetings and governance has increased through the use of electronic meeting and voting
  • Associations have built and/or enhanced infrastructure within communities to accommodate the new “work from home” environment (e.g., faster internet, better and more secure Wi-Fi networks, etc.)
  • Community awareness about the importance of collective and individual health and safety has improved dramatically
  • Boards of directors and managers have adopted more proactive “problem-solving” approaches for addressing community-wide concerns
  • Enhanced health and safety measures are being taken to protect the health and safety of residents, and to mitigate the risk of injury/liability to the association; Board of directors increasingly recognize and rely on important scientific, health and medical-related guidance from doctors and public health agencies (e.g., limiting capacity at pools and fitness facilities, establishing reservation systems, and increased/enhanced cleaning services, etc.)
  • Communities have “stepped up” and demonstrated increased willingness to provide assistance and work with owners and residents directly impacted by COVID, financially or otherwise (e.g., waiving late fees/interest, offering payments plans, etc.).

In times of uncertainty, it’s often helpful and therapeutic to reflect on the positive gains and the lessons we’ve learned from our struggles. As we head into a new year in 2021, let’s focus on some of “the good.” Let’s continue to be neighborly, kind, and compassionate. Communities are defined by the character and quality of individuals who live there, not the size or cost of their homes.

2020 was never anticipated, nor did it go as planned or as we hoped. But we battled through it, and there’s much to look forward to in the future. Going forward in 2021, let’s focus on “the good”, and continue to improve where we leave off in 2020.

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