Homeowners’ Associations (HOA’s) have been around a lot longer than you might think, although not necessarily in the same form that we see them in today. The first planned community was Levittown, a community built in Long Island in the late 1940’s. It was built primarily to offer low-interest homes to veterans. Though there was no formal association at Levittown, community rules and regulations were formed.
Similar planned communities continued to be developed as more and more people began to move out of city centers and into the suburbs. In some, the houses would look essentially the same; in others, several designs would be built. These communities attracted more affluent families and people who lived in these communities generally shared common ideas of how streetscapes should look. These developments were often more self-contained than traditional neighborhoods in that they maintained stricter standards regarding the appearance of the homes (both the structures and the landscaping). The general idea was that people who were looking for a certain aesthetic standard would be drawn to these communities.
Because of the popularity of these communities, real estate developers began increasing the density of homes on each parcel of land. Instead of large individual lots for each house, shared, common recreational spaces were built. Clusters of homes would be built around a common green space. Starting in the 1960’s associations would be appointed to manage that common space. The common grounds association would essentially function as type of local government, managing things which were previously taken care of by municipal workers.
As more communities were developed, the association responsibilities began to shift according to the wants and needs of residents. Eventually, this morphed into what we know today as the modern Homeowners Association.