The following is a guest blog by Christine Alonzo, Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization/CLLARO Executive Director.
Latinos beware: Influential people in our city are trying convince us to support construction defect legislation as a way to increase affordable housing. Don’t be fooled – these measures could actually end up bankrupting families who can least afford it.
Cities like Denver, Lakewood and Commerce City have passed ordinances to give developers financial and legal cover when they build shoddy homes, stripping homeowners’ rights to hold them responsible. Some of the provisions include forcing homeowners to automatically accept even “band-aid” fixes, interfering in HOA voting procedures and mandating expensive binding arbitration that would rule out appeals.
While there are many great builders in Colorado, the reality is there are some that cut corners and dodge their responsibilities. The idea that a homeowner with a construction defect must accept any repair a builder suggests – even if it’s inadequate or dangerous – feels like a violation of our home, not to mention occasionally foolish. If a developer built it wrong the first time, should they automatically be trusted on a “do-over”?
One of the consequences of intruding in an HOA’s voting process is that proxy votes may not be honored, an enormous issue in our community since so many work unpredictable schedules, multiple jobs and have many family/religious/cultural obligations. And many Latino families are already dealing with economic hardships due to the high cost of living, underemployment and stricter home lending standards so requiring mandatory arbitration that involves hiring expensive private judges is a big problem for our community.
Despite the development industry’s claim, there is no link between construction defects and the lack of condo development, which is the result of market conditions of the last several years, like higher home buying fees, higher down payment requirements, higher student debt obligations and later marriage and child rearing choices. Not only have builders provided zero proof that a link exists, they have also provided zero guarantees that developers will build affordable housing instead of continuing to build more profitable luxury-end homes.
Six out of 10 eligible Hispanic voters own their own homes, so don’t let legislators vote to take away our families’ rights to a jury trial when they have been victimized by a “bad actor” builder.