As mounting gun violence across the U.S. continues to alarm the public, community association experts urge everyone to remember that homeowners associations, condominiums, and cooperatives—neighborhoods millions of Americans call home—are places of tolerance, open discussion, and respect.

“We believe that community associations are built to be places where neighbors support and help one another and develop a true sense of belonging,” says CAI’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Skiba, CAE. “There are no issues or disagreements between parties in a community that are serious enough or significant enough that they can’t be settled peacefully.”

This reminder comes as a tragic shooting took place this past weekend at a condominium in Stuart, Fla., apparently surrounding a dispute that took the life of a volunteer community leader and her spouse.

While overall incidents involving gun violence in community associations are rare, community association board members and managers have become increasingly concerned about safety for residents, volunteers, and employees recently. In addition to the shooting at the Florida condominium this month, another incident last August in Atlanta claimed the life of a high-rise community association manager.

“CAI expresses its deepest condolences to the victims’ families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors in both these unacceptable tragedies,” says Skiba.

Industry observers believe these recent tragedies aren’t a reflection on community associations. Rather, they are more indicative of broader struggles with gun violence and hostility throughout the country.

Laurie Poole, 2022 president of CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) Board of Governors, and David Graf, 2023 president of the CCAL board, issued a combined statement reminding community association residents, board members, and managers about the important role they play.

“The people who volunteer their time to serve their communities on the board of directors are stewards of democracy at the most local level. They work selflessly to benefit their fellow neighbors. There is a true ‘common interest’ in a community—a shared desire to live in a peaceful neighborhood,” Poole and Graf say. “It is important to recognize that these incidents are rare. Community associations bring people together, especially during challenging times.”

Community association board members and managers are regularly faced with challenging and complex issues that can spark strong emotions. A critical responsibility is to facilitate community conversation about these important issues. In 2020, CAI introduced the Community Association Civility Pledge to help establish a framework for effective community conversations.

Developed by CCAL, home to the most experienced legal professionals working in the community association field, the Civility Pledge can serve as a model for community associations to foster a climate of tolerance, open discussion, and mutual respect.

>>Find more conflict management resources from CAI Press.

>>Access additional on-demand webinars and education courses in CAI’s Learning Center.

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