News & Events

The Future of Gated Communities

Gated community living is on the rise in the United States and many other modern industrialized countries. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Housing Survey, 11 million households lived in gated communities in 2009 representing approximately 8.4% of American homes. That number increased from 7 million, or 5% of homes in 2001. This represents a 3.4% increase in 8 years and that number is expected to continue to rise.

There are many benefits to living in a gated community. Heightened sense of security is often sited as a large motivating factor. Crime is perceived by many to be on the rise in the United States. Common crimes like car theft and burglary are lower in gated communities when compared to non-gated housing.

Gated communities are also safer for children as the neighborhoods can not be used for through traffic. This decreases the likelihood of speeding and reassures mothers who have children playing in the neighborhood.

Others like the idea of a planned and regulated space that ensures the proper upkeep and maintenance of all the properties involved. A well planned and maintained community has many benefits, not least of which is the enhanced appreciation rates of the property as compared to other dwellings.  Investing in property within gated communities is a great way to protect the value of the property and provided greater opportunity for capital appreciation over time.

With the many benefits also come challenges inherent in the gated community. Proper management is paramount. An effective system for managing the shared features of a given community must be implemented in order to meet the expectations and desires of the group as a whole. There are essentially 2 options. Manage the community by creating a board consisting of members within the community, or hire a professional management company. The pros and cons of these 2 approaches are explored in the post "HOA Community Management: Is it Right for My Neighborhood?"

Another issue that has steadily been growing as a challenge is the negative light in which many in the main stream media and academia present gated communities. The tragic Treyvon Martin shooting and how it was portrayed in the media provides an example of this. Instead of the media focusing on the 2 individuals involved in this sad event, they began to focus on gated communities in general and attempted to place part of the blame of Treyvon’s death on the idea that gated communities foster a paranoia of any “outsider.” George Zimmerman may indeed have been a paranoid individual, but this was not caused by the community he lived in.

There are also reports in the news of derogatory graffiti aimed at “The 1%" being found in the suburbs of America. It has become increasingly popular for American society to blame the Upper classes for all the struggles faced by those who are less fortunate economically. I think it is important to be mindful of these trends and to act with compassionate understanding and a willingness to help those who are less fortunate.

I believe a pro-active approach to this negative stereotype is very important. I believe the negative stereotype can be overcome through a very public and visible outreach movement amongst gated communities.

American society is one of the most generous cultures in the world. Like all cultures though, there are still shortcomings and failures. It is a shame that the media is participating in making the gated community one of the scapegoats for the problems found in America today. It is an unfair assessment. Giving in this country is directly correlated to income. The more money an american makes the more money on average they give away to charitable causes.

An Interesting Opportunity for Gated Communities

Community outreach programs and gated community sponsored charitable events are a great way to give back and help provide a balance to the imbalances of the modern media. The negative slant that is sometimes aimed at gated communities is not an accurate assessment of affluent neighborhoods and the individuals who live there. Many in these communities are giving away substantial amounts of money each year for positive causes. Many of these individuals are also running companies that provide employment and help others support themselves and loved ones. Many more want to make a difference but don’t always know how. If this is you, challenge your Board or Community Management Company to organize a fundraising event amongst the residents of the neighborhood and then give all the money to a local non-profit organization or charitable cause. P/R campaigns like this will enrich the lives of everyone involved.

There is nothing wrong with working hard and being compensated for the value created. Giving back is part of the American culture and there is ample opportunity right now to help balance the areas that are on the edge.

Letters are not case-sensitive.