John Gonsalves, who runs one of the most awesome charities I know of, Homes for Our Troops, has a problem. And its one that will make your blood boil.
Gonsalves and his folks build specially built homes for disabled war veterans who have special needs. Such as SFC Sean Gittens.
Army SFC Sean Gittens was left paralyzed and unable to speak or communicate as a result of a battle related traumatic brain injury. Deployed for the third time in his career, SFC Gittens suffered multiple concussive traumas throughout his year-long deployment to Iraq from April 2007-April 2008. Upon returning home, suffering from headaches and other head-injury related symptoms, SFC Gittens suffered an aneurism in his brain and a subsequent stroke which left him with paralyzed and non-communicative. Treated at multiple hospitals, both military and civilian, SFC Gittens now receives care from trained medical personnel in his home.
Homes for Our Troops identified a place for the home they wanted to build SFC Gittens and his family and went to work getting buying the property and getting the necessary approvals.
Building on the 2700 square foot home was to begin this Friday. Homes for Our Troops purchased the land in December and preparations for building the home have been ongoing over the past month. These homes are a reflection of the gratitude of the community and are given mortgage free to the veterans once complete.
Homes for Our Troops received building permits for the project and has been working closely with the Knob Hill Board of Directors, making multiple changes to the plans for the home as requested. The written approval came from Knob Hill BOD President Rick Trump on June 2nd.
Everything is cool, no?
Late last week, a lawyer for the HOA served the contractors on site with a cease and desist letter to stop the preparation of the build site. Facing strong opposition from the Property Owners Association, the Knob Hill Board of Directors and the Property Owners Association met again on June 20th, just four days before the planned kickoff of the home build. Homes for Our Troops was then notified that the house plans do not meet the Knob Hill standards and the original approval was thus rescinded. Homes for Our Troops has now been told that it must begin anew the entire approval process and that the house needs to be at least 3400 square feet and multi-level to even be considered.
"Shockingly, it appears that the Knob Hill community has decided it does not want to welcome SFC Gittens and his family, as we were previously told," said Homes for Our Troops Founder John Gonsalves. "Despite our working closely with the Knob Hill Property Owners Association over the past four months, we find ourselves in an untenable situation. We cannot afford to add 700 square feet to the house, particularly under our special adaptive plans. And our experience in building over 100 homes dictates that severely injured veterans need a specially adapted single level home. Frankly, this late action begun by the Knob Hill Property Owners means we must suspend working on the home. The Knob Hill Property Owners Association has now assured that SFC Gittens and his family will not be able to have the home they so desperately need. We have done everything in our power to try to resolve this situation, but it appears that the community is not willing to accept this home, and SFC Gittens and his family into the community."
According to Gonsalves, the Knob Hill neighborhood covenants state that the minimum size for a house in the subdivision is 2,700 sq ft (see Fox News clip). He also points out that there are many 2,700 square foot homes in that subdivision. And, as you might imagine, given that’s the minimum size the covenants allow, that is the size of the proposed Gittens home. In other words, the Knob Hill Property Owners Association (Evans, GA) are not following their own covenants. Gonsalves was told the home was “too small” and “didn’t fit in” to the surrounding neighborhood (with some homes as large as 5,000 sq. ft).
I’m sympathetic to property owners rights 99% of the time. But this is that 1% where I’m totally against them. And that’s because they’re attempting to void their own covenants and not abide by them. Remember, these are their PUBLISHED covenants. These are the minimum standards they AGREED too when they built their homes in that subdivision. It is the document they’d certainly use to legally enforce the standards therein if it was necessary. But now they simply want to ignore the document and impose arbitrary new standards that simply don’t exist other than in their demands.
I think the Knob Hill Property Owners Association needs to rethink this entire thing, don’t you? If you’d like to share your opinion concerning their denial of a disabled vet’s opportunity to live in a home that meets all the standards of their covenants you may want to drop them a line.
Please be polite and respectful, but feel free to make your feelings clear about their actions. Also remember that, per Homes for Our Troops, not all the people living in that subdivision agree with the board’s decision. The email address for the board is - [email protected]
This is not how America should treat its disabled vets.
UPDATE: Just in (1:20 pm).
The president of the Knob Hill Property Owner's Association says plans are moving forward for the construction of a home for Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens.
The homeowners association and Homes For Our Troops have been talking. A list of items Knob Hill requires is being provided to Homes For Our Troops.
Both organizations said they hope to make a joint announcement on Monday, June 27, in regards to moving forward with the plans.
Keep the pressure on, but please, be polite and respectful.