Homeowner associations, property owner associations (POAs), planned unit developments (PUDs), or common interest developments (CIDS) may be in a unique position to take advantage of local planning, control, management, and oversight in providing both essential and recreational services to the members they represent, especially in times of disaster or severe economic downturns.
The HOA should follow, at a minimum, the Community Associations Institute “Model Code of Ethics” for HOA Board members, which follows:
“Board members should:
- Strive at all times to serve the best interests of the association as a whole regardless of their personal interests.
- Use sound judgment to make the best possible business decisions for the association, taking into consideration all available information, circumstances and resources.
- Act within the boundaries of their authority as defined by law and the governing documents of the association.
- Provide opportunities for residents to comment on decisions facing the association.
- Perform their duties without bias for or against any individual or group of owners or non-owner residents.
- Disclose personal or professional relationships with any company or individual who has or is seeking to have a business relationship with the association.
- Conduct open, fair and well-publicized elections.
- Always speak with one voice, supporting all duly-adopted board decisions even if the board member was in the minority regarding actions that may not have obtained unanimous consent.” 
Can you imagine what it would be like if our governmental bureaucrats and “elected” politicians truly adhered to even a portion of this Code of Ethics?
Volunteer committees and social groups make up the bulk of the true disaster response capability in an HOA setting. Even though HOA Boards, staff, and management teams will play important roles in leadership, communications, procurement, and “holding down the fort”, HOA volunteers already “get it”; namely, that giving of your time, treasure, and talent are what brings true satisfaction and spiritual growth into our lives. (See Luke 6:38)
The training and efforts of HOA volunteers in “peacetime” bode well for what their response and dedication to their community and close neighbors will be when TEOTWAWKI is on the horizon.
HOA Committees and Groups with specific interests, member backgrounds, and skill sets include:
Amateur Radio (Ham) Clubs. Members include retired persons, ex-military, telecom workers, electronic industry personnel, “Old School” techies, and preppers. These people range from ham radio “rig” and antenna “scratch” builders to out-of-the-box buyers of some of the latest and greatest ham gear and antennas. Related Ham organizations include:
- American Radio Relay League (ARRL),
- CERT, REACT and affiliated Ham Radio “Nets”
- Amateur Radio Emergency Service (related to ARRL)
- Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS)
- All States have numerous Ham Radio Clubs with a comprehensive list by state available at:
Safety Committees. Members will have an interest in controlling risk, and managing both community safety issues and Workers Compensation insurance costs, before TEOTWAWKI. Their focus will be on the trip-fall hazards, light bulbs out, snakes, and other predatory animal risks, preventable accidents among employees and residents, safe use of community facilities, as well as specific health and safety issues for various age groups (children, elderly, adolescent drivers).
Security Committees and Emergency Preparedness Committees. This group is usually comprised of active and retired first responders and medical professionals, or those with retired or active duty military training. In a SHTF situation, this group will be tasked with augmenting and supplementing any remaining or available civil authority in addition to existing in-house or contracted community patrol or security forces. Their primary mission will be the protection of life, property, and HOA assets and the orderly implementation of the Board directed use of HOA assets to facilitate the “disaster plan” post-SHTF. Local law enforcement and emergency personnel should always be allowed to take the lead and provide authority and direction under Rule of Law (ROL); however, in a grid down WROL situation, this group of trained citizens will be tasked with providing asset security, limited fire protection, emergency medical services, maintaining order, and training others in OPSEC, self-defense, and home protection.
Home Canning and Cooking Clubs.These groups will provide an invaluable service by cooking, gathering, processing, and preserving the fresh vegetables, nuts, herbs, fruits, and game that are grown and/or harvested through farming, hunting, trapping, and slaughter of domesticated food animals. Additional skill sets include vital food safety principles that are so important when without reliable refrigeration, sanitized water, and while using primitive cooking methods. Home canning must only be performed by those with the proper equipment, supplies, and experience using proven recipes and methods. Most canning equipment is supplied with rudimentary instructions and recipes; however, the USDA has a good canning guide (Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539) that everyone should have printed and laminated as a backup to your digital survival files:
Gardening Clubs (community garden plots. Existing community gardeners and gardens will become even more important in a grid-down situation. These amateur farmers will already have the “tribal knowledge” of the local growing conditions, planting times, best crops to grow, and will have sources for local soil amendments and non-GMO, non-hybrid, and heirloom seed banks. They will be able to assist “first year” emergency gardeners with establishing food gardens without having to go through the painful experience of crop failures, marginal yields, and pest control issues by avoiding many of the first timer mistakes.
Skeet, Trap, and Target Shooting Clubs.The importance of training and practicing the safe and effective use of firearms for self-defense and for harvesting game animals cannot be overstated. Clubs and shooting sports organizations within HOAs are more prevalent that you might think. Some HOAs fund the construction of dedicated facilities and maintain target ranges and trap-skeet facilities for members. Other use local target ranges and facilities. Use of outside facilities should be considered with OPSEC in mind. Finally, shooting clubs almost always have reloading enthusiasts who possess valuable experience, training, and supplies. Shooting club memberships are frequently synonymous with Security and Safety Committees.
Holistic and Homeopathic Health Groups. These groups are comprised of and members should be recruited from health-conscious individuals and practitioners of homeopathic and holistic principles. Yoga instructors, health and fitness professionals, plus MD’s and DO’s (and their staff members) are all valuable resources for an HOA in a SHTF situation. HOA’s frequently employ health professionals for various wellness programs and social activities, and many have developed and maintain extensive equipment and fitness facilities.
“The highest aim of healing is the speedy, gentle, and permanent restitution of health … in the shortest, most reliable, and safest manner, according to clearly intelligible reasons.” -Samuel Hahnemann, M.D.
RV Committees and Travel Clubs. The prevalence of RV’s, RV Parks, and RV storage facilities within HOAs is well known. Many large scale and age restricted, or “retirement” communities provide facilities as well as having close ties with organized motor coach tour companies. The use of RV’s in a grid down situation is a no brainer due to the self-contained nature of these rigs. Emergency housing, refrigerated food storage, emergency power, sanitation, and use as possible observation posts, road blocks, command centers, and medical treatment facilities are but a few of the functions these assets can fulfill, as long as fuel supplies can be maintained.
Bible and Faith Study Groups. I leave the most important group for last. Being an Evangelical Christian and home bible study facilitator, I have found that there is a God-given priority leading to an abundant life, spiritually, if not materially. God is FIRST, family is second, and career or avocation is tertiary.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)”
In conclusion, when your HOA next publishes notice of the annual member’s meeting, elections, and board candidates, make every effort to attend those “Meet the Candidate” forums. Make it a point to ask the candidates (and the incumbent Board) if the Association has a detailed emergency response plan or disaster preparations, and if not, why not? Propose new committees, or join a committee or two and propose some of the steps described here, and add a few of your own particular to your community for possible adoption by the Board in the event of the inevitable, or “just in case”. If you need to sell the concept, remember: Insurance isn’t worth a darn until you need it (and then it’s too late to buy it).