AAM analyzed current trends in American neighborhoods using existing research. In addition, the company decided to conduct a more thorough investigation using its own data. The AAM research team surveyed nearly 600 homeowners living in homeowner association (HOA) communities, 80% of which reside in Arizona.
As a result, the company identified these five key challenges affecting neighborhoods across the country:
Traditional Neighborhoods and the “American Dream” Do Not Fit the Stereotype
The “American Dream” conjures up images of the 1950s, home ownership and traditional families. Today, home ownership is still very much a part of the American success formula.
In June 2011, a New York Times and CBS News poll found 90% of respondents felt home ownership still helps fulfill the American dream. In the AAM study, more than 70% of HOA homeowners surveyed believe the American Dream includes the ability to buy a home.
But with the recent mortgage crisis, a troubling job market and an unsure economy, many Americans are still anxious about their financial futures. Homeowners living within HOA communities should check with their boards for available homeowner resources that might lessen the anxiety.
U.S. Population and Living Situations are More Diverse than Ever Before
The housing crisis has been a major contributing factor to living situation diversity. As a result, the suburbs have become bigger job generators. According to a March 2012 New York Times and the Daily Beast study, suburbs now provide more jobs than cities. But, more people are living below the poverty line in the suburbs than ever before.
In addition, demographics show the Hispanic/Latino population rising significantly. However, the U.S. population growth as a whole is flat. And according to the 2011 U.S. Census, the population is aging with the largest jump in the 55 to 64 age group.
A new family dynamic has emerged as well. While the U.S. marriage rate is at a record low, single households have increased. Diverse living situations such as multi-cultural families, unwed parents, foster families, divorced adults, diverse unions, adoption with no marriage, marrying after a baby, single parents and multi-generational homes have become the norm.
However, AAM found exceptions to these national trends in its Arizona HOA communities. For example, nearly two-thirds of neighbors surveyed live with a spouse. HOA communities provide ample homeowner resources to support family life.
Americans are Feeling Instability
Opinions remain consistent across the nation when it comes to Americans’ biggest concern – the economy. People are worried about their jobs. In an October 2011Reason Rupe study, 47% of respondents indicated jobs and unemployment were their top two concerns.
Arizonans were no different. The AAM study confirmed Arizona homeowners were primarily worried about the economy, their families and their finances. HOAs can help build a sense of community through a variety of homeowner resources.
People are Distracted and Disconnected
Technology helps improve daily life, but it also can isolate people. Too often Americans replace face-to-face dialog with digital communication from their gadgets.
Fortunately, HOAs focus on building strong neighborhoods and homeowner resources. Neighbors get to know neighbors and participate in activities, attend events and volunteer.
Neighborhoods are Not Working in America…but We Want Them to
According to a July 2011 StateOfNeighbors.com study, only 25% of Americans know most or all of their neighbors’ names. Interestingly, this study also found 86% of Americans say their neighbors can affect their happiness at least somewhat.
Compared to the national study, more Arizonans know their neighbors. The AAM study found nearly two-thirds of Arizona homeowners surveyed know some of their neighbors by name. HOA communities and homeowner resources create more opportunities for neighbors to get to know each other and participate together in activities.
It’s quite clear from the national research studies that people still want the American Dream. But, it’s becoming more difficult. Certain issues must be addressed, such as community diversity, feelings of financial instability and being disconnected.
AAM’s Arizona research study indicated homeowners expect their board to keep their neighborhood clean, safe and financially solvent. But, they also would like their HOA to help increase homeowner resources for face-to-face communications and positive interactions between neighbors.